By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
The Saugus Centurions were locked in and managed to win what would be a grinder of a game with the Hesperia Scorpions in the Division 2AA playoff opener Friday.
Saugus was led by senior Davis White, who poured in 27 points to go with a pair of blocks.
White was deadly everywhere, scoring from inside the paint, the free-throw line as well as behind the arc.
“My teammates know when I’m hot,” said White. “We just try to play together and not really focus on who’s got the hot hand. We move the ball and play together. They found me and it’s all because of my teammates.”
The first half was a grind as each team exchanged baskets without being able to build a comfortable lead over their opponent.
Hesperia guard Jordan Malveaux did most of the Scorpions’ damage, scoring 13 of his 24 points in the first half.
The Centurions would go into the halftime break up 33-32.
Jaison Tan played excellent defense all game long, assigned with containing Malveaux.
“I knew my role on the court,” said Tan. “I have to keep my mind in the game. I can’t let anything slip up, knowing this could potentially be my last game.”
Tan would be all over Malveaux and finished the game with eight points, six rebounds and three steals.
Eventually Saugus head coach Alfredo Manzano adjusted to doubling the Hesperia guard. Malveaux wouldn’t get far without Tan and another defender hounding him.
“Coach Alfredo is a great coach,” said White. “He’s always got us prepared. We trust what he brings us and we’re very confident out there because of how much work he puts in for us.”
However, after a few botched double teams of Hesperia’s focal point, the Centurions found themselves on the wrong side of an 8-0 run.
It would be a battle fought heavily at the free throw line with the Scorpions seeing nearly double the trips to line.
However, White came through, going a perfect seven of seven from the line. White’s free throws also gave Saugus the lead back that they were fighting for with 1:46 left to go in the game.
Hesperia’s last two possessions ended in an offensive charge by Seth Goodro and a miss on a decent look of a 3-pointer by Malveaux.
In between those plays, it would be Saugus’ Brandon Perez who was fouled and pushed the lead to three at the free throw line.
“I’m super proud of them,” said Manzano. “They played their hearts out.”
Saugus will now move on in the postseason to play the winner of Cajon and Redondo Union on Tuesday.
“This is a great time for us to be as confident as we are,” said White. “I’m feeling really great about how we’re playing right now.”