Saugus Centurion girls’ basketball fell just short of a comeback in Tuesday’s Foothill league home battle with the Canyon Cowboys.
Canyon was up nearly 20 but held off the Centurions’ late surge to win the game, 62-55.
The Cowboys (13-6, 5-1) were led by senior point guard Aaliyah Garcia, who flirted with a triple-double with 15 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
The Cowboys never trailed in the game as they overcame athletic interior play and some sharpshooting from Saugus (10-10, 4-2).
Junior Destiny Onovo was a difference maker in the paint, leading Saugus with 19 points, 13 rebounds and three steals.
First-year head coach Anthony Falasca was pleased with his forward’s energy and performance.
“[Destiny’s] that person that you don’t ever have to tell to play harder,” Falasca said. “She makes me coach better. She energizes me, the girls, she’s that Energizer Bunny.”
Canyon jumped all over Saugus early and was off to a quick 8-0 lead. The Centurions have struggled to start hot this season but settled in and managed to tie the score at 14-14 to end the first quarter.
The Cowboys pulled away in the second, outscoring the young Saugus team by eight in the quarter.
The Centurions never recovered enough to get back in striking distance, but showed poise hanging in there with one of the top teams in the CIF.
Senior Kristin Kai and freshmen star players Shannen Wilson and EvaMarie Rios were also crucial in the comeback, adding buckets throughout the final quarter.
Wilson finished with just six points but brought down 13 rebounds while Rios tallied up 12 points, five boards and five rebounds.
Canyon head coach Jessica Haayer knows the future is bright at Saugus but still felt her team was in control the whole way.
“I think we made some little mistakes as a program we have to get better at, but I felt comfortable the whole game,” Haayer said. “Our kids knew what they were doing.”
Saugus threw numerous different defensive schemes at Canyon. The veteran Cowboys, and veteran Haayer were able to adapt in time and held off the Centurions enough to pull away with the win.
“Our goal is to have you wonder what we’re playing [defensively] at all times,” Falasca said. “And because we’re young, we’re really not great at any of them yet. So, I’m still trying to figure it out. That’s kind of what’s our M.O. is, and until I figure that out, we’ll continue to throw everything at you. And if you beat us in this, we’ll try that and if you beat us in that we’ll try this. And so far that’s been working.”
The Centurions have played solid defense this season but Canyon has numerous options on the floor at all times. Junior Josie Regez led all scorers with 21 points while posting five rebounds and three steals for the Cowboys. Senior Jade Sims finished with 17 points and seven boards.
Canyon will return home Friday to host West Ranch at 5 p.m. Saugus will head to Valencia on Friday at 5 p.m. but the team is already looking forward to another shot at the Cowboys.
“I still don’t know what we’re great at yet,” Falasca said. “And I’m not ashamed to say that. I think as we’ve gone throughout the season, I’m finding things that we do well and what we don’t like doing. And I love adapting. I love teaching. They’re teaching me a lot about myself and about them. I think these next two or three games we’ve got Hart. That’ll be a good one for us. And I can’t wait to get Canyon on their senior night at their place.”