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Saugus ends postseason drought with convincing victory over North High

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By Dom Nicastro


They won Northeastern Conference titles, had 16-win seasons and several all-stars. However, nagging the Saugus High School girls basketball program during its recent string of success had been the goose egg in the postseason.
Not anymore. The Sachems broke the postseason hex. And convincingly. Saugus beat North High of Worcester, 58-12, in the preliminary round of the Division 3 state girls basketball tournament at Saugus High School on Tuesday night, Feb. 27. Saugus (14-7), the No. 25 seed in the 40-team, single-elimination tourney, moves on to face No. 8 Dover-Sherborn (13-7) on Thursday night, Feb. 29, at Dover-Sherborn High School.

“It’s great,” said Saugus sophomore Peyton DiBiasio, who led all scorers with 14 points, including nine in the second quarter in which the Sachems outscored North, 23-6, and went into the break leading, 30-8. “You know, we’ve been struggling for the last two years. We’ve never been able to get that win. But it’s always been a high compete level.  And I think we upped our game this year, and we prepared ourselves for moments like this.”

Ice-cold in the first quarter (1-for-13 from the field), Saugus in the next quarter was simply red-hot like the color in its uniform. The Sachems shot 9-for-17 in the second quarter, including 5-for-8 from 3-point land. Ella Castle was the Downtown Queen with 2 in the quarter and 8 of her overall 11 points. DiBiasio, Taylor Deleidi (10 points) and Ashleigh Moore (3 points, 7 rebounds) also had 3-pointers as Saugus had a game-turning 16-0 run over the first and second quarters.

The Sachems’ defense in the opening 16 minutes forced 27 turnovers from last-seeded North High (44 in the game). The Polar Bears had 5 field goals in the entire game, including only 1 in the second half – Susy Daniels’ bucket that made it 52-12 with 3:52 left in the game. North went 3-for-11 in the first half and 1-for-20 in the second half under ferocious pressure in the halfcourt by the Sachems.

Saugus coach Joe Lowe, in his first year as head coach after serving as an assistant last year, said he was concerned about North point guard Jakayla Edmonds after watching her on film. She didn’t score against Saugus in her 0-for-6 night. “She’s a great player. I watched her on film, and she’s tough,” Lowe said. “I thought Madison Botta and Madi Femino just kind of shut her down. Because the games that I saw them playing, when she gets going, their team gets going with open threes. And for us to shut her down was kind of what our gameplan was, and I thought they did a good job.”

Saugus allowed only 1 field goal in the first quarter (Daniels’ bucket that made it 6-2). But Saugus only had 1 itself: DiBiasio’s 3-pointer that broke a 0-for-8 start to the game that made it 5-0 nearly 5 minutes into the contest.

“All nerves,” Lowe said when asked about the slow start. “They had a good crowd. Parents were there. It was loud in here. I lost my voice a little bit. It was cracking. I think for us to miss six layups in the first quarter, I think that was all nerves. But I’m happy they got it out then.”

It was Easy Road from there, as Saugus heated up on each end of the floor. And in the post-game, it led to an all-smiles Ana Silva, a Saugus senior who’s played for four years now and was longing for that first postseason win. “It feels amazing,” Silva said. “My senior year is coming to an end. So to get a tournament win is something I’m going to remember.”


Saugus girls basketball scoring against North High

Peyton DiBiasio, 5-2-14; Ella Castle, 4-0-11; Madi Femino, 0-2-2; Devany Millerick, 0-3-3; Ashleen Escobar, 2-4-8; Ashleigh Moore, 1-0-3; Taylor Deleidi, 4-1-10; Jessica Bremberg, 2-0-4; Sydney Deleidi, 1-1-3.

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