Saugus girls’ basketball survives Burroughs rally, heads to QFs 

EvaMarie Rios (13) of Saugus shoots against Burroughs High School at Golden Valley High on Saturday, 021024. Dan Watson/The Signal
EvaMarie Rios (13) of Saugus shoots against Burroughs High School at Golden Valley High on Saturday, 021024. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Saugus Centurions girls’ basketball exploded early against the visiting Burroughs Burros in their Division 3AA playoff battle. 

Saugus needed every point from its hot first quarter as the team held off Burroughs through a physical and long game, with three players fouling out, which nearly ended the Centurion season on Saturday at Golden Valley High School. 

The Centurions won the game, 56-48, thanks to some strong defense and aggressive rebounding. 

Saugus coach Anthony Falasca knew his team was in for a physical battle. 

“We got tape on them and saw them play, so we knew they’re physical,” Falasca said. “They’re scrappy. They get steals. I think one of them was averaging four steals a game. We knew in the second half that they were going to bring the intensity and so we tried to match and I think we did.” 

India Wright (35) of Saugus shoots against Burroughs High School at Golden Valley High on Saturday, 021024.  Dan Watson/The Signal
India Wright (35) of Saugus shoots against Burroughs High School at Golden Valley High on Saturday, 021024. Dan Watson/The Signal

Saugus (21-9) started the game off hot and walloped Burroughs, 17-5, in the first quarter. The Burros (17-7) had a handful of unforced turnovers while the Centurions, a team with a history of slow starts, erased any trace of that occurrence and blasted ahead. 

Burroughs settled in and slowly chipped away at the lead. Saugus remained in total control of the game until the wild fourth quarter.  

Both teams were assessed offsetting double technicals when Burros senior Savannah Rowland shoved Saugus sophomore Samantha Cortez after the two tied up for a jump ball. 

The tangle was the first of several jump balls in the quarter as both teams were diving on the floor to keep their season alive. The Burros found their rhythm late after going the first three minutes of the final period without a score.  

Natalie Weathers (23) of Saugus fights for a loose ball against Burroughs High School defender Ariana Gutierrez (23) at Golden Valley High on Saturday, 021024.  Dan Watson/The Signal
Natalie Weathers (23) of Saugus fights for a loose ball against Burroughs High School defender Ariana Gutierrez (23) at Golden Valley High on Saturday, 021024. Dan Watson/The Signal

Burroughs kept finding ways to score, mostly on the coattails of Rowland, who finished with a team-high 14 points. The senior found an easy inside bucket to cut the deficit to three points with less than two minutes to go. The Burros had a chance to tie but Saugus guard EvaMarie Rios stole an inbound pass and scored on the other end. 

The Centurions weren’t perfect from the free throw line during the game but finished off the game from the line. 

Senior Destiny Onovo finished out the game with some clutch free throws and led Saugus to victory. Onovo put up a game-high 25 points with 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. 

“After halftime it was like a big old battle, back and forth,” Onovo said. “We know who we are and we know what we need to do at all times. We were just rushing a little bit and not taking our time but once we took our time trusting each other and made our shots, everything flew together, especially those free throws at the end.” 

Onovo as a rebounder was a key assignment for the Burros. The senior forward was doubled-teamed and trapped on a majority of her rebounds, but quick transition or passes kept the turnovers to a minimum. 

Destiny Onovo (22) of Saugus shoots against Burroughs High School in the fourth quarter at Golden Valley High on Saturday, 021024.  Dan Watson/The Signal
Destiny Onovo (22) of Saugus shoots against Burroughs High School in the fourth quarter at Golden Valley High on Saturday, 021024. Dan Watson/The Signal

The captain got a good portion of her scoring from Rios, who flashed her passing skills yet again, with some nice dishes into the paint to her captain. 

Team rebounding was crucial against Burroughs, which averages just south of 20 offensive rebounds a game. Rios did her share with 12 rebounds to go along with her 14 points, five assists and three steals. 

Saugus forwards Natalie Weathers and Brianna Burroughs also added some solid work off the boards. 

Onovo’s team survived a thrilling comeback, yet another thing about her squad that impresses the captain. 

“Every day someone does something that impresses me,” Onovo said. “I love how much (Weathers) has grown this whole season being healthy. (Burrough’s) starting to shoot threes. We’re all just coming together and proving who we are, and it’s my favorite thing ever.” 

Saugus now advances to the quarterfinals and will remain home to host the Torrance Tartars (15-13). 

The Centurions played at Golden Valley on Saturday due to Saugus hosting its winter formal but the team may finally get to host a playoff game on its home court.  

Saugus and Torrance tip off on Wednesday at 7 p.m. 

“I’m excited to keep heading down the road,” Onovo said. “We don’t ever plan on losing or trying to lose. We’re gonna give it our all every day, every game.” 

Saugus High teammates cheer as the team extends their lead against Burroughs High School in the fourth quarter at Golden Valley High on Saturday, 021024.  Dan Watson/The Signal
Saugus High teammates cheer as the team extends their lead against Burroughs High School in the fourth quarter at Golden Valley High on Saturday, 021024. Dan Watson/The Signal

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