By Daniel Kane
SAUGUS – Despite a record 32 point performance by junior junior Christian Correia, the Saugus basketball team was defeated 57-54 by Somerville at John W. Towers on Thursday night.
"Christian played a monster match," said Saugus coach Mark Bertrand. "He has just been on fire. He wears this team in a defensive and offensive way. He is captain as a junior and I have only great things to say about him. It was all I asked him.
"I can not say enough about tonight's efforts," added Bertrand. "These kids have everything in play tonight. I was really proud of these guys. I just told them, "I'll take you anywhere." They played their heart. A couple plays here and there goes our way and who knows. It did not happen tonight. "
After being led by seven to half, the Sachems resumed the match to tie things up in the fourth quarter. Both teams came and went before Marcos Montiel of Somerville (22 points) scored a decisive 3-point goal in the final seconds.
"It was a good high school match and it was great to be part of it," said Bertrand. "A great atmosphere, a tournament atmosphere in which you want to be. We all have to improve ourselves. As coaches, we need to improve, players need to improve and we need to learn from them. "
Correia started quickly, scoring nine points to help Saugus qualify 14-11 after the first quarter.
The Somerville shooter took off in the second quarter. James McEwen (eight points) added three points early to allow the Highlanders to leave, then to Montiel. The rookie scored four points at three points in the second quarter, including a drummer buzzing on the final possession of half-time to give Somerville a 33-26 lead.
"We told our guys that they were still there," said Bertrand. "One of the most important things we're talking about is the first three minutes of the second half. You have to set the tone and I think we did it with some turnovers and some quick hoops. "
That's what the Sachems did and rebounded in the third quarter. Correia added nine points in third place, but most importantly, the Sachems tightened their defense to slow down Somerville's shots.
"I thought our guards were doing a great job and adjusting," said Bertrand. "Joseph Lusso (nine points) did a good job and our wings came out. Kenny Okoye (seven points), we made it go up and protect the center with Christian. We made some good adjustments, modified our area a bit and tried to force them to make bad shots. "
Both teams qualified for the fourth quarter tied at 41-41. From there, the two fouls followed one another, leading to a 51-51 match two minutes from the end. Correia scored the next basket and the Sachems forced a turnover before three. McEwen however managed to score three points to allow the Highlanders to organize the match at 54-54.
The Sachems returned the ball in a move on their next possession to place Montiel's three wins on the Highlander's last ball 1.5 seconds from the end.
"We're right here," said Bertrand. "We have to give credit to Somerville, they hit twice in a row, but we played hard. We performed as it should, and as I said, I could not be more proud. For this young team to win the other night and come back without disappointment tonight, we are really starting to find our rhythm. "
Saugus (2-12) will return to the field on Tuesday (7) on the road against Malden.
"I told them, 'We are at Malden,'" said Bertrand. "You just have to move on. We will start watching the movie, we will make our adjustments and spend two wonderful days of practice. It will probably be a difficult night, a difficult night, but that's what happens when you're a young team. We are right in Malden. "
Saugus 64, Somerville 33
The Sachems have 12 players in a convincing victory on the road Thursday night. DJ Munafo had five points, while Fallon Millerick, Haley McLaughlin and April Aldred all played well.
Saugus (9-7) will win his 10th win Tuesday against Malden.