By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
The Saugus Centurions (12-9-1, 7-2-1) had their backs to the wall for over three quarters of their game against the Santa Clarita Christian School Cardinals (14-7). The Cardinals capitalized on the glass and sluggish play by the bigger Centurions, but by the end, the Centurions would prevail.
In their second matchup of the season, the Centurions beat the Cardinals, 64-60, on Wednesday after losing their first matchup, 90-89 on Nov. 19. The Centurions got their victory, but not without a fight from a smaller school that turned this game into a nail biter to the very end.
“We got a little bit stagnant in the fourth quarter, but we competed,” said Cardinals head coach James Mosley. “We’re going to look at the film and make adjustments. We did an OK job of matching up but it’s a work in progress. You live with the guys who brought you here. Overall, it was a high-level game for both teams and good reps as we get into the playoffs.”
The Cardinals came out the gate fast, finishing the first quarter up 21-14 on the way to a 35-32 first-half lead behind Keller Wilson, who scored all 10 of his points in the first quarter, and Jaden Karuletwa, who scored all 10 of his points in the first half.
The Centurions hung around enough thanks to Davis White leading his team with 10 points in the first half.
The third quarter still remained close as the Cardinals edged the Centurions 16-15, heading into the fourth quarter up by four points and having not lost the lead the entire game. All that would soon change.
The Centurions sparked their comeback and took the lead with under two minutes left to go in the fourth quarter behind Jaison Tan, who scored all six of his points in the fourth quarter. White finished the game with 21 points and six rebounds.
Brandon Perez finished the game with 13 points, six rebounds and three assists, and Cristian Manzano finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.
The Centurions outscored the Cardinals 17-9 in the fourth quarter.
“We stayed composed and in our head despite the physicality going on in the game,” said Manzano. “We’re a fourth-quarter team. We practice late-game scenarios every day. We face a lot of adversity even going down by 12 points at one point of the game, but we are prepared for these moments.”
For the Cardinals, Wilson finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, three steals and one block. Maurice Wright finished with six points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
Max Tengan led the Cardinals in points (17) while also accounting for three assists, two steals and one block and Jaden Tengan finished with 15 points, including accounting for all nine of the Cardinals’ points in the fourth quarter.
Tengan would almost bring the Cardinals back, but after a late turnover that led to a Centurions free throw and making it a four-point game, there was not enough time for the Cardinals to recover.
“Both teams played their hearts out,” said Centurions’ head coach Alfredo Manzano. “They provided excellent ball pressure on our guys and our guys were able to handle the pressure. Both teams displayed all-out hard work and it was a good game to be a part of.”