By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
The Foothill League got run over by the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday, with three games being canceled due to exposure within teams. Luckily for the Saugus Centurions (7-6-1, 3-2-1) and the Castaic Coyotes (2-8, 1-3), the pandemic didn’t affect their game and it continued as scheduled.
The game concluded with the Centurions emerging on top in an 89-54 victory. Prior to the game, the Centurions were out of practice for 16 days due to having to be shut down over the winter break for 10 days due to COVID-19.
“We showed a lot of rust in the first half,” said Centurions’ head coach Alfredo Manzano. “We didn’t practice or do anything as a team for days. We had meetings and workout homework over Zoom but nothing simulates game play. In the second half we came out and played better. It was good to get the reps up.”
The Centurions were without their starting small forward Davis White, but were able to find a groove as the game wore on.
The Centurions were led by shooting guard Nathan Perez, who finished with 33 points and five rebounds. Point guard Brandon Perez accumulated 16 points, four rebounds and three assists while point guard Christian Manzano finished with eight points, five rebounds and four assists.
The Coyotes also were dealing with COVID-19 issues of their own and were missing key starters while also having to call up some junior varsity players.
Like the rest of the league, Coyotes head coach Levi Wenrich goes week by week to figure out the roster situation as the pandemic continues to roll through the league.
“The guys played fearlessly and that’s what we love to see,” said Wenrich. “It was great for us to get reps against a strong Saugus team and great to see our guys battling in the first half. Both Perezes were impactful and even without (White), you can see how hard Saugus plays with a well-coached team. We were a little shell-shocked coming out of halftime seeing what a veteran team can do after making some adjustments. We got punched in the mouth.”
The Coyotes hung around in the first half, but would not be able to hold up in the third quarter. By the time they were able to recover, the game would be out of reach with the Centurions coming out on top.