By Jerry DiStefano
The Saugus High Sachems boys’ basketball team found themselves down early against rival Lynn English. The Sachems never gave up and battled the Bulldogs from the first whistle all the way to the last whistle. On the last whistle, the Sachems lost on a buzzer-beater by the Bulldogs, 76–74, at Saugus last Friday night.
The Bulldogs came out on fire, as they went on a 9–0 run in the first 1:37 of the first quarter. The Sachems came out a little rattled, as it took 3:29 to score their first basket. English jumped out to a 20–7 lead with 2:15 left in the first quarter. The Sachems finally answered the Bulldogs onslaught with a 22–2 run from that point. The trio of Joe Bertrand, Shane Ripley, and Ryan Henehan help lead Saugus back into the game.
Saugus Head Coach Paul Moran knew his team would settle into the game at some point. “Once we settled down, we were able to hang with English. I think the kids started out a little nervous and tentative, and if you do that against a team like English, you are in trouble,” Moran said.
Early in the second quarter Moran switched up his zone defense from a 2-3 to a 1-3-1, which proved to be vital in the Sachems getting back into the game. At the half Saugus ended up with a slim lead.
The Sachems picked up the second half right where they left off the first half, as they extended their lead to 58–49 at the end of the third quarter. Saugus opened their lead to double digits early in the fourth quarter, but English then answered back. The Bulldogs started chipping away behind Stevie Collins and Fred Hogan, as the duo help cut the deficit to just three points with 4:49 remaining in the game (66–63). The Bulldogs continued their run and tied the game at 71–71 with 1:57 remaining in the fourth quarter. After Hogan hit a big three pointer English took their first lead since early in the second quarter (74–71). Ripley tied the game (74–74) for the Sachems with 28.8 seconds left. Saugus would get a stop on defense and secured the defensive rebound with 1.6 seconds remaining.
Saugus called timeout, which proved to be their end. They tried to inbound the ball, but the pass was picked off by Collins, who fired a desperation shot that swished through the basket.
‘It was a heart-breaker,” Moran said. “We made a huge mistake. And a team as good as English will make you pay for that. That’s why they’ve won the league the last 10 years, or however long it’s been,” Moran said.
Saugus was led by the trio of Ripley (22 points), Bertrand (21 points), and Brandon Wladkowski (11 points).
The Sachems (6–6) will look to bounce back next week.