The Saugus High School girls’ basketball team is a young squad with no senior players. That hasn’t stopped the Sachems from earning 13 wins during the regular season, capturing a share of the Northeastern Conference’s Lynch Division title, and earning a trip to the Div. 3 state playoff tournament.
On Friday at 4:30 p.m., the 22nd seeded Sachems (13-7) travel to face the No. 11 Archbishop Williams Bishops (11-9), who play in the very tough Catholic Central League. Saugus head coach Mark Schruender said Williams has size and can score in a variety of ways. He added that Williams played a tough schedule and competed well against some highly-seeded teams during the season.
Schruender recalled that co-captains Jessica Bremberg and Ashleigh Moore expressed their desire to return to the tourney when the season began. “The rest of the girls echoed that sentiment. When I ask our alumni their favorite memories of playing, they always say it was playing in the tournament,” Schruender said. “I’m happy that this group gets to experience that.”
But making the tournament is only part of the goal. “Now that we’re in and that box is checked off, it is clear by how the players are working and focusing that we want more than just to get in,” Schruender acknowledged.
The Sachems should be pretty battle tested entering the tourney, led by leading scorer Peyton DiBiasio, all-around stalwart Ashleen Escobar, and the rest of the team, which has contributed mightily all season. Saugus finished the regular season playing against top Div. 1 teams. Losing to Peabody in overtime and dropping two to undefeated Lynn Classical, the second of those a hard-fought six-point loss, Saugus is used to stellar competition.
“We’ve tried to keep up our intensity with our schedule over the last couple of weeks,” said Schruender. whose Sachems also scrimmaged top playoff seeds North Andover, Pentucket and Wakefield in the week leading up to the tourney. He said playing against this level of competition will help his team understand the speed that it will need to play in order to compete.
As for Friday’s Round of 32 tilt against the Bishops, Schruender said preparations are being made to cope with the tough road environment. “Their gym is fairly small, so we are going to work on communicating nonverbally in our practice in case we cannot hear.”