Coming off a modest two-game slide, the Saugus High School boys’ basketball team was determined to finish the 2022-23 regular season on a winning note before entering this year’s state Div. 3 playoff tournament. The Sachems succeeded in earning a 51-48 win last Friday night at Triton to close out the regular campaign. But it wasn’t easy.
Despite jumping on top 6-2 early, the Sachems found themselves on the short end of a 28-18 margin at halftime. Saugus was able to regain its offensive punch in the second half by outscoring the hosts by 12 in the third quarter and entering the final eight minutes with a two-point edge.
It took a clutch steal and lay in by Max Anajjar in the final 15 seconds of the game to give the Sachems a three-point lead they would not relinquish. “Triton called a timeout [but] our defense was able to get the stop,” observed Saugus Head Coach Joe Bertrand. “[Triton] really picked it up on defense, slowing us down as we went into halftime. We made the adjustment to a full court press [in the second half] and our speed caused some turnovers.”
Josh Osawe had another productive outing by finishing with a team-high 19 points for the Sachems. Ben Tapia-Gately added 16 and Isaiah Rodriguez chimed in with nine.
The win gave Saugus a first-place finish in the Northeastern Conference’s Lynch Division, the first finish of its kind for Saugus boys’ basketball since 1991. The victory also left Saugus with a 13-7 overall record heading into the postseason tourney. Bertrand said that, as of Tuesday, the team was ranked 12th in the Div. 3 power rankings, meaning the Sachems would likely host a round-of-32 playoff game at the Saugus gym.
Bertrand added that another set of rankings are going to be released on Friday. The final playoff brackets will be determined on Saturday. “We are going to work hard in practice and focus on sharpening our skills until we know who our opponent will be,” the coach said about his team’s postseason preparation.