Saugus girls hoops hopes dashed by Fairmont Prep

Jason Conn draws up a play during a timeout. Dan Watson/The Signal

Saugus girls basketball’s 45-43 loss to Fairmont Prep in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA quarterfinals was a game of seconds.

With 30 seconds left in the game, Monique Febles released the ball from beyond the arc. The gym was silent, then it erupted in cheers. Febles had made the 3-pointer to tie the game at 43-all.

“She shot it with confidence,” said Saugus coach Jason Conn. “She’s done that all year long. She stepped up. She’s a senior. She said, ‘I don’t want to go home. I’m not ready to go home yet.’ And she just buried it.”

But moments later, with five seconds left, Fairmont Prep’s Makaila Glynn scored the two points that decided the game and sent the Huskies to the CIF-SS semifinals. 

The Centurions started the game slow, but were able to overcome Fairmont Prep’s defense and score seven points in the last 40 seconds of the first quarter to give themselves a chance.

Saugus’ Monique Febles (1) shoots a three-pointer to tie the score in the final seconds of the game against Fairmont Prep defender Milan Robinson (15) at Saugus on Wednesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Fairmont Prep went on a 10-point run in the opening frame to gain a 13-2 advantage. With 40 seconds left, Eden Mackenzie made her first 3-pointer of the game, then Lulu Salloom scored two points in the paint and Febles hit a jumper with less than a second left on the clock.

Salloom, who has been a solid rebounder for the Centurions all season, was able to generate many chances throughout the first quarter and scored four points for herself. She’s one of five underclassmen that will return next season.

“She finally started to know, ‘Hey, I could take the ball to the basket and I can score. I think that’s going to be in her mind going forward.”

More: Knights girls hoops fizzles out against San Bernardino

In the second quarter, Eden Mackenzie was able to score three 3-pointers to help close the gap. Libbie McMahan got into scoring form and added five points to bring the score to 30-23 by halftime.

McMahan used the momentum from before halftime to score eight points in the third quarter — all of Saugus’ points in the frame. But the Huskies were still able to hold their own and keep a 40-31 lead going into the final quarter.

“They’re just a well-rounded team,” Febles said of Fairmont Prep. “They can shoot, they can bring the ball in.”

Although they seemed hesitant at times, the Cents picked up the pace in the fourth quarter. They held Fairmont Prep to five points in the stanza while scoring nine for themselves.

McMahan drained a three, then scored two more points with 2:42 left to play to bring Saugus within two points of tying the game. Glynn made a free throw to make it 43-40, then Febles hit her three to tie it.

“It felt huge in the moment but, I don’t know,” Febles said. “I just thought we were down by three, we needed three really quick, but I wish we could have pulled it off.”

Saugus’ Libby McMahan shoots against Fairmont Prep at Saugus on Wednesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

The season ended for Saugus on Wednesday night as teams need to at least win in the CIF-Southern Section quarterfinals to qualify for the CIF State playoffs.

The Centurions had a historic season nonetheless, claiming an undefeated Foothill League title for the first time in program history.

“Be confident in themselves,” Febles said of what she wants next year’s team to do. “Learn from this. Really, just always go as hard as you can.”

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