By Ryan Menzie
For The Signal
Strong drives into the lane, tough rebounds and shooting lights-out from the 3-point line. This gritty game Tuesday showed all the reasons why this Foothill League rivalry always brings out the best in both teams.
In a game where the scoreboard doesn’t do justice to the hard-fought matchup, Hart got as close as 4 points until Saugus pulled away and held on to the victory.
The Indians were led by their starting small forward, Jacob Okonowski, who led the team in assists and points finishing with 18 including making three shots from beyond the arc. Okonowski also had help from Dillon Barrientos, the Indians’ starting point guard who finished with 16 points.
Head coach Alfredo Manzano subbed out his entire starting five unit just two minutes into the game. He did not like the initial effort being shown from his team.
“I had to take the starters out quick. I felt like they weren’t following the game plan right away,” said Manzano. “I normally do it when I feel like we have a real tight game plan and they don’t follow through with it. There’s really no excuse for that.”
Although it may have seemed bizarre to some parents and fans, the plan worked. The bench provided a spark for the team while the starters gathered themselves together. Saugus fired back and held a halftime lead of 5 points before ultimately finishing strong and winning the game by 11 points.
The strong play from junior guard Nathan Perez and junior guard and small forward Davis White helped lead the Centurions to victory. White finished the game with 16 points and knocked down three 3-pointers in the first half alone. Perez finished the game with a team-high 21 points, including 12 points in the fourth quarter alone to help close out the game.
“We’re just trying to bounce back from the Valencia game and come together as a team and finish the league out positive,” said Perez. “I just wanted to make sure that we were going to end up winning the game.”
While Perez controlled the game in the fourth quarter, White helped control the game throughout the first three quarters, knocking down three 3-pointers in the first half, securing strong rebounds and finding open teammates for easy buckets.
“I was able to hit my shots. I think my shot was going in and I was able to drive off of it,” said White. “I just went in this game to try to get more boards than usual. I’ve been struggling on the boards and once you’re hitting your shorts, everything just opens up for you and that’s where the assists came from.”