In its Round of 32 Div. 3 playoff loss at 16th-seeded Seekonk last Friday night, the Saugus High School boys’ basketball team was far more competitive than the final score suggested. The No. 17 Sachems trailed by three at halftime and were within seven with a little over three minutes left in the game before eventually falling by a 68-54 margin.
Trailing 19-11 after one quarter, Saugus fought back to tie it as the first half was coming to a close. But Seekonk drilled a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to take a three-point edge into the break. From there, the hosts increased their lead to 11 after three periods before the Sachems brought the deficit back down to single digits late in the fourth quarter.
Sachems head coach Joe Bertrand said his team felt pretty good at halftime only being behind by three after falling behind early. But Saugus went cold from the field in the third quarter and never fully recovered. “Seekonk made some big shots to pull away late,” he said.
Ben Tapia-Gately led the charge for the Sachems with 22 points and nine rebounds. He also dished out five assists on the night. Josh Osawe was the other Saugus player in double figures with 13 points while Cam Soroko, Max Anajjar and Isaiah Rodriguez finished with seven each. Chris Flynn also made the scoring column by netting six points.
Last Friday’s playoff appearance was the first for the Saugus boys in three years. “It was a great opportunity for the entire program. We haven’t been in the tournament since the 2019-20 season. It was a great experience for our team and our younger players got to see the intensity of a state tournament game,” Bertrand observed.
The team’s five senior players – Tapia-Gately, Osawe, Anajjar, Flynn and Isaiah Garcia – will be missed. “[They] have done what I asked of them a couple of years ago, and that was to leave our program better than they found it,” Bertrand said. “It’s the goal of the underclassmen to do the same.”
The Sachems finished the season at 13-8 overall and will have a 2022-23 Northeastern Conference Lynch Division crown to defend next year. Saugus is also likely to have several players named to this year’s conference all-star team, which was scheduled to be announced later this week.