Saugus girls hoops wins first Foothill League title since 2012

Libbie McMahan (3) of Saugus scores against Canyon defenders Kiki Taufaasau (3) and Chidinma Okafor (13) at Saugus on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Saugus girls basketball won the Foothill League title outright on Tuesday night, beating Canyon 56-51 at home. It’s the first time the Centurions have won the title since 2012 when they shared it with the Cowboys.

The title was particularly significant because of everything that Saugus has gone through as a school this year after the tragic shooting that took place earlier this year.

“Just like, the whole tragedy was very unfortunate. You have to be thankful for what you have and I’m very thankful that I have the opportunity here,” said Saugus senior Libbie McMahan.

The Cents (22-4 overall, 9-0 in Foothill League) were able to hold a comfortable lead through the first half, outscoring Canyon 13-6 in the first quarter and 21-15 in the second quarter to build a 30-24 lead by halftime.

The Cowboys (18-9, 5-4) were able to climb to their first lead of the game in the third quarter. Chidinma Okafor made two free throws to cut the deficit to 38-37, then Genesis Gonzalez hit a 3-pointer to pull Canyon ahead 40-38.

“She’s a big-time shooter,” said Canyon coach Jessica Haayer. “She’s young, she’s a sophomore, so just trying to get her to play some defense to keep her on the court. It’s a big moment for her as a sophomore.”

Lucy Collins made a layup immediately after and the Cowboys went into the fourth quarter holding a 44-40 advantage.

Saugus regrouped at the break and was able to come out strong in the final frame and take the lead back.

Mackenzie made two free throws to bring the score to 44-42 in Canyon’s favor, then Riley Phipps came up with a clutch three to put Saugus up 45-44.

“I was really excited,” McMahan said of the three. “Being ahead and then coming from behind is difficult, but we always kept our cool and we had it in the bag the whole time.”

Okafor tied the game at 51-51 on a basket off an offensive rebound with two minutes left in the game, but Mackenzie hit a three on the next possession to get her team the lead for the final time.

The Centurions have the opportunity to go undefeated in Foothill League play for the first time in program history on Friday night when they take on Hart at home at 4:45 p.m.

“Senior Night, it’s going to be really tough for someone to come in here and beat us on Senior Night when we’re trying to go 10-0,” said Saugus coach Jason Conn.

Canyon is currently in a tie with Hart in third place the league standings, with both teams sitting at 5-4. The scenario sets up a must-win game for the Cowboys on Friday night against Valencia at 4:45 p.m.

“We have to win,” said Haayer. “We need to win to really solidify that third place and get the playoff berth, but there’s the big rivalry between us and Valencia and a lot of time its the name that’s the most fearsome. I’m just trying to get them to play like you did tonight, take away a few of those turnovers and it should be a ball game.”

Valencia 57, Golden Valley 25

Mailey Ballard led the Vikings with 14 points, followed by Skylar Ingram with 12 points. Marissa Howell chipped in 10 points.

Valencia is now 17-10 and 7-2. The Grizzlies are 8-15 and 1-8 and next play West Ranch on Friday at 4:45 p.m.

Hart 60, West Ranch 38

Emma Allen logged a double-double for the Indians with 10 points, 10 rebounds, eight steals and five assists. Leila Uribe scored 20 points for Hart and Braelyn Waldeck had seven points.

Hart is 12-11 and 5-4 and the Wildcats are 1-16 and 0-9.

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