Lady Sachems basketball team to refocus after splitting games
By Julian Cardillo
The recent snow, rain and slushy, wet conditions may have been a nuisance to most Bostonians, but the Saugus girls’ basketball team are viewing it as a blessing in disguise. With a schedule that’s never ceased being competitive, having somewhat of a break thanks to the lousy weather is allowing the Sachems to take a much-needed breather. “I knew this particular week in the season was going to be a tough one, just with where it sat on the academic calendar and with the recent run of games,” said Sachems coach Mark Schruender. “We’ve been able to catch up a bit, and we had a nice practice on Wednesday.”
The Sachems have been go, go, go, like most teams in the Northeastern Conference. They’re 8-7 on the season after putting together their “best performance of the season” (per Schruender) last Friday against Somerville and losing a tactical battle, 35-31, to Malden on Tuesday night.
Malden turned out to be a tough nut for the Sachems to crack: Despite starting off on a 10-6 run, they were outscored, 9-0, in the second quarter – the first time they were shutout in the quarter all season – and struggled to make shots. The Golden Tornadoes applied heavy pressure on Saugus, using the shot clock against them.
“We just weren’t making a ton of shots, and it was a low-scoring one anyway,” Schruender said. “But I want to also say that we need to give Malden credit. They’re a talented team and they played us very well.”
Alessia Salzillo (10 points) and Taylor Bogdanski (nine) led Saugus’s scoring in the loss to Malden.
That Saugus weren’t their usual selves against Malden wasn’t a huge red flag for Schruender, who was pleased with his team’s effort against Somerville last Friday in a 67-52 victory. It was a key conference victory for the Sachems, especially when considering that the Highlanders entered the game on a five-game winning run. “They’d been hot as of late,” Schruender said. “A big victory for us. I thought we showed a ton of energy on both sides of the court. Defensively we were really strong. Our execution was all there … a number of players scored on offense, too.”
Leading scorers in the Somerville game were Salzillo (20) and Marissa Stockwell (13).
Saugus’s next game is tonight against Swampscott. “Always a really tough game for us, but I think we’re going to go into it recharged,” said Schruender. “We just want to execute. If we do that and stick to our game plan, we’ll be fine.”
Saugus boys’ hoops team sticks in for huge win against Northeast Vocational
By Julian Cardillo
Saugus High School basketball coach Mark Bertrand continues to do yeoman’s work developing his young team. Though wins have been hard to come by in a season marred by transition and a competitive Northeastern Conference, the evidence suggests he’s slowly helping his squad come together and build on their impressive raw talent.
The Sachems put together one of their top performances of the season last Friday night against Northeast Vocational, winning 75-59 at home. Earning this victory means the Sachems are still alive – thanks to the Sullivan rule – in the playoff hunt as a Division III team.
Even so, the Sachems had to battle to earn the much-needed win. The first quarter was dominated by back-and-forth plays. “They stayed around a fair bit,” said Bertrand. “They didn’t make it easy for us, and we didn’t make it easy for them. It was really back and forth throughout the whole game, but I was pleased with the way we fought and battled back.”
Despite giving up back-to-back threes to start the game, Saugus responded with a 10-0 run of their own. Northeast collected themselves and truncated the Sachems’ momentum and went on another run to end the quarter up 14-12. Saugus returned fire in the second quarter and got off to an 8-0 start. They took the lead and went into halftime up 35-24. The Sachems kept up their form in the third, though Northeast managed to trim the deficit ever so slightly to 10 points. Saugus needed some help from Jake Morgante, who had eight points in the fourth quarter alone, to see out the victory and take down the feisty Golden Knights.
That said, Bertrand was pleased with the number of players he had recording double-digit points. Christian Correia led Sachems’ scoring with 16 points; Vinny Cirame had 14; Mason Nickolas had 13 and Mike Mabee had 10. “It was good to see so much diversity in our scorers in the sense that a lot of guys had success on offense,” said Bertrand. “We were accurate and we executed well. It was a great shooting night for us, probably our best offensive performance on the season.”
Unfortunately, Saugus couldn’t carry the momentum into Tuesday night. Despite competing well against Malden, one of the top teams’ in the Northeastern Conference, Saugus eventually fell, 79-40. “I was proud of our guys’ effort on the night,” said Bertrand. “The score doesn’t reflect the actual competitiveness of the game. I saw a lot of improvements from us on defense, and I was especially proud of the fact that we didn’t back down and kept it close at key parts of the game.”
Cirame led Saugus scoring with nine points while Morgante had eight points and 10 rebounds.
The Sachems’ next game is against Swampscott tonight. “Another big Northeastern Conference game,” said Bertrand. “We’re still in this thanks to the Sullivan rule, but we need to take something out of our last few games to have a real chance.”
Lady Sachems hockey team is Playoff-bound
By Julian Cardillo
The Saugus girls’ hockey team punched their ticket into the post-season with an emphatic 6-2 victory at Medford on Wednesday night. Saugus came out flying, scoring four goals in the first period to leave Medford struggling to come up with any type of response. A pair of goals by Emma Carlton got the Sachems started, with Gemma Demento and Catie O’Shea padding the lead.
“It was awesome, we played very well,” said Saugus coach Anthony Martucci. “We attacked from the beginning, got those four quick goals. It was a great way for us to punch our ticket to the playoffs, because I thought we had some opportunities lately but just didn’t take full advantage.”
Medford scored two unanswered goals to cut Saugus’s lead, but the Sachems were buttressed by additional tallies from Sophia Kennedy and Mckayla Norris.
Martucci singled out his goalie, second-stringer Sabrina Dembro, who won her second game and make 14 saves. “She’s been fantastic for us,” said Martucci. “She really played a solid game back there for us.”
With the Sachems now in the postseason, the remaining four regular-season games will be dedicated to improving seeding. A good seed will help Saugus host their first tournament game. “A home game is what you want,” Martucci said. “But we’ll have to win at least three games out of four to have a good shot at getting that. We want to give ourselves the best shot possible.”
Saugus, who are 9-4-1, play their next game against Marblehead on Saturday.
Saugus boys’ hockey team looking to rally with limited chances
By Julian Cardillo
Ryan Groark’s fifth goal of the season wasn’t enough to get the Saugus hockey team a much-needed win against Marblehead last Saturday. Despite scoring on the power play in the second period, Saugus took their foot off the gas and allowed Marblehead to equalize in the third period. The game ended 1-1, putting Saugus at 5-6-5 on the season, which is still short of a playoff berth.
“Unfortunately we just didn’t come out strong in the third,” said Saugus coach Jeff Natalucci. “If we want to make the postseason, we can’t do that. A point is fine, but performances like that aren’t enough. We can’t play like that and think we’re going to make the playoffs.”
Groark had Saugus in a reasonable position to come away with all the points. “I thought we started well, and I thought it was great for Ryan to get us going off a power play,” Natalucci said. “It was good to see him get his shot off. I hope he can keep it going for the rest of the season.”
The Sachems have four games left in the regular season and need five points to clinch a state tournament berth – that means they need to win three of their last four to have a shot (Thursday night, prior to printing, the Sachems played a make-up game against Danvers due to a weather cancellation).
Saugus’s next game is against Swampscott, next Wednesday night. “We’ll have some time off until our next game,” said Natalucci. “Hopefully, we can all come together. I think a game like the Marblehead can help get us focused, because we’re running out of chances.”
Saugus wrestling team limps into sectionals
By Tony Capobianco
The Saugus wrestling team has endured a season plagued by injuries and will enter the MIAA Division 3 North Section Wrestling Championship this Saturday at Melrose with just senior captain Dan McCullough and a bunch of first-time wrestlers. McCullough reached the 20-win mark for the second consecutive season and is readying for another run at states. McCullough is the last senior standing after injuries to Steve Pettenati and fellow captain Joe Alba. Pettenati was a first-timer on the mat, but a dental injury in which there are cracks in his teeth ended his season early.
Alba, who also notched 20 wins, is currently nursing injured shoulders. While he feels optimistic that he will be ready in time for sections, Saugus head coach Rudy Howard has a more pessimistic view towards it. “He has two bad shoulders,” Howard said. “One thing about wrestling is all the cranking on the shoulders. He’s a senior; I’ll leave it up to him, but to know that you’ll probably not finish the match, why do that to yourself?
Junior captain Dominick Clark has been nursing a torn meniscus and will also be unable to wrestle at sectionals. “Dom’s a baseball player,” Howard said. “He’s going to have surgery in two weeks, so why go out at 40 or 60 percent because he’s a competitive kid? … I just don’t want to [see] any more damage to his knee.”
Due to the lack of numbers going into sections, Howard conceded that the Sachems have no chance at winning the team championship short of every available wrestler placing first in their respective weight class. For Saugus, the sections are an opportunity for his remaining wrestlers to make a postseason run towards state qualification.
They’ve made it this far through the season, which feels like a fierce battle of attrition. “This is the most unforgiving sport,” Howard said. “In other sports, you have kids to fill in. In wrestling, if you don’t have kids that fit in weight classes and you start out with 20, you’re hoping by the end of the year — as you go through the year, you’re like, when’s the flu gonna hit? When’s the stomach bug gonna hit? Is anyone going to get skin issues that they got to be out for? As people, are they going to pass their grades? Are they going to get injured? So it’s all these things that come into play.”
Saugus finished the season 7-12. Howard expects seven or eight wrestlers to compete in sections, which begin as early as 9 a.m.