Having legitimate hopes of receiving a Div. 3 postseason tournament bid last week, the Saugus High School boys’ basketball team was disappointed when it did not make the field of 48 in this year’s state bracket. Therefore, the Sachems’ 2021-22 campaign came to a close with an overall 8-12 finish.
It was basically a story of two seasons for the Sachems. They opened by going 6-2 before struggling over their last 12 games, winning just two of those contests. The season was also interrupted by a COVID-19 surge in late December which forced a layoff of about three weeks.
A few close defeats were essentially the difference between Saugus making the tourney and ending up, as it did, on the outside looking in. A heartbreaking 55-53 late-game loss at Masconomet was the most recent example of a game that could have been a win. Masco drilled a three-pointer in the final seconds to steal that victory.
Saugus will lose four seniors to graduation, and they were all key figures on this year’s squad. Co-captain Tyrone Manderson was the team’s top offensive weapon with a run of strong scoring efforts over the final few weeks. Guard and Co-captain Ryan Mabee combined solid play on both sides of the ball while Mark MacEachern and Ryan Anderson proved to be important contributors as well. Moving forward, Saugus should be bolstered by the return of junior starting guard Ben Tapia-Gately and junior forwards Max Anajjar and Jeury Barbosa.
Head Coach Joe Bertrand took over the position after his father, Mark, passed away in 2020. The team went 4-9 in the pandemic-altered 2020-21 season. A 1,000-point scorer during his playing days at Saugus High School, Bertrand said before this season that the atmosphere around the team was going to be positive with a strong work ethic being part of that. The Sachems came within two games of assuring themselves a postseason nod and were ranked 36th among the list of 69 Div. 3 teams.
Several teams that were ranked below Saugus got in the tourney based on having better records. The Sachems did play some very tough opponents, including 20-2 Beverly (twice), Salem, Peabody (twice) and 16-4 Swampscott to close out the regular season.