Hart Indians star forward Jaden Penberthy missed a majority of his junior season, but was back onto the court against the Saugus Centurions. Despite his return and the Centurions missing one of their starters in Nathan Perez, the Centurions managed to prevail.
The Centurions (11-8, 7-2) beat the Indians (8-8, 1-4), 79-61, on Friday. The lopsided scoreboard does little justice to the intensity displayed by both teams in this big Foothill League matchup.
“I’m looking at guys who have been facing adversity all year long and still continue to win games,” said Centurions head coach Alfredo Manzano. “I’m proud of the guys. We keep the foot on the gas pedal. We know they can shoot the ball very well and were two or three points from making this a close game, so we wanted to make them take hard shots as much as possible. I think the guys executed exactly what we needed to do.”
The Indians kept it close in the first quarter, only being down four points, but by the time the halftime buzzer went off, the Centurions had created a sizeable 15-point lead.
The Centurions were led by Davis White at the half, leading all scorers with 19 points while also racking up four rebounds and two blocks. Penberthy showed no rust as he led the Indians with 10 points and two rebounds heading into the halftime locker room.
The Indians needed to change the script in the second half and do better on the glass, but the Centurions remained relentless and outrebounded the Indians, 33-19.
White would slow down in the second half and finish with 25 points and 10 rebounds while also producing two blocks.
“Hart played hard and we were able to play a tough game and bounce back after a loss,” said White. “As seniors we had to push the pedal and step on their necks. We’re very confident and playing our game. We all feel good and we’re all playing well together.”
Christian Manzano finished the game with 19 points and three assists. Brandon Perez scored 12 points while also stuffing the stat sheet with four rebounds, three assists and three steals, and Taylor Phipps finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
The Indians tried to remain in the game behind Penberthy, who led the team with 19 points and three rebounds, and Jacob Okonowski scoring 16 points, but the Centurions kept the lead in the fourth quarter and closed out the game 79-61.
“We said the team that would win the glass would win the game, and they by far won all the rebounds,” said Indians head coach Tom Kelly. “They dominated the glass with too many second-chance shots. They were tougher than we were. We missed too many box-outs and the easy shots were easy layups. That’s just how it goes sometimes.”