Mark Schruender

Saugus, Fenwick to battle it out in state tourney

FILE PHOTO
Olivia Valente and No. 3 Saugus will host No. 6 Bishop Fenwick on Thursday night. 

By MIKE ALONGI 

The Saugus girls basketball team battled its way to a 16-6 record this season, earning the No. 3 seed in the MIAA Division 3 North tournament and a home game in the first round. But that first round game will be anything but easy, as the Sachems will take on the defending Division 3 state champion Bishop Fenwick Crusaders.

“They’re a model team for sure,” Saugus coach Mark Schruender said of Fenwick. “We saw their run last year and when we watched them play, our coaching staff collectively said that we want to play like them. They played fast and aggressive every minute, and we modeled ourselves after that style.”

It appears that the Sachems have learned well from the Crusaders, at least according to Fenwick coach Adam DeBaggis.

“They’re a much-improved team this year,” he said. “They’re aggressive, quick and well-coached just to name a few things. They’re going to be a tough out this year.”

The Sachems have a solid group of players led by the likes of Olivia Valente and Alessia Salzillo. But if there’s one thing that Saugus lacks, it’s postseason experience.

“The experience factor is certainly in Fenwick’s favor, but we’ve been preparing for this all year,” Schruender said. “I think the big thing we need to push on the players is that it’s okay to make mistakes early from nerves or whatever, but we need to be able to settle down and execute. It’s still basketball, and we’ll be in our gym, so I think we can try to counter the experience factor.”

Fenwick may not be the powerhouse team that won it all last year when they went 23-4 and won the Div. 3 state title, but they’re still a force to be reckoned with. The Crusaders finished the year with a 14-8 record, good enough for a No. 6 seed on the bracket.

In terms of experience, the Crusaders may be more loaded than anyone despite losing multiple four-year starters to graduation. Senior captain Sam Mancinelli has played in 10 career postseason games, while juniors Fredi DeGuglielmo and Jennie Meagher have each played in eight career postseason games.

“Obviously the experience is a big factor because there are plenty of girls out there who will never play in that many postseason games,” said DeBaggis. “But at the end of the day we still have to execute against a really good team on the road.”

Adding to that veteran lineup is sophomore Jaxson Nadeau, who has emerged from a core of young players as a crucial cog in the machine.

“This has been a much different season for us,” DeBaggis said. “We lost several four-year players, two of them four-year starters, so we had a totally different look this year. But a lot of the younger girls have stepped up and our upperclassmen have provided the leadership we needed to have a successful regular season.”

Championship pedigree or not, DeBaggis knows his team will be in for a battle in Saugus.

“It won’t be easy,” he said. “They’re going to be fired up over there and the crowd will be going nuts. We anticipate that they’ll come out with plenty of energy, and we’re going to have to stay focused and execute our gameplan.”

The Crusaders and Sachems will meet on Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Saugus High.

Elsewhere around the NEC, a number of local teams are preparing for tournament runs of their own. The Revere Patriots nearly had an undefeated regular season, winning their first 18 games before dropping the final two to earn the No. 2 seed in the Division 1 North tournament.

A big part of the Patriots’ success this year has been the play of their two bigs inside, Valentina Pepic and Meaghan Gotham. The two have been able to score from the post and dominate the glass, perfectly complementing the play of guards Pamela Gonzalez and Tatiana Iacoviello.

Revere draws a home game against No. 15 Medford (10-10) in the first round on Monday night at 7 p.m.

Also in Division 1 North, the Peabody Tanners closed out the year with a 13-7 record and secured the No. 11 seed. Seniors Melissa Gray and Katie Wallace have paced the Peabody offense this year, while Nene Onwuogo has had a great season at the forward spot.

The Tanners travel on the road to take on No. 6 Waltham (14-6) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

Two teams from the NEC also made it into the Division 2 North bracket. The Swampscott Big Blue earned the No. 11 seed in Division 2 North after closing out the regular season with an even 10-10 record. The Big Blue will travel to take on No. 6 Hamilton-Wenham (12-8) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

The Danvers Falcons also closed out the year at 10-10 and earned the No. 12 seed. The Falcons will play No. 5 Arlington Catholic (14-6) on Monday night at 7 p.m.

Four-quarter effort drives Sachems over Big Blue

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Olivia Valente of Saugus looks for an open pass while being guarded by Swampscott’s Hannah Leahy.

By HAROLD RIVERA

SAUGUS — The Saugus girls basketball team identifies itself as a “fourth quarter team.” Tuesday evening at Saugus High School, the Sachems were a “fourth quarter team” through the entire game.  

Saugus built an early 9-3 lead after the first period and never looked back, en route to a 44-32 win over Swampscott.

Sachems coach Mark Schruender was happy to see his team get off to a quick start.

“We have this joke going on right now,” Schruender said. “We’re a great team in the fourth quarter. (Junior guard) Rachel Nazzaro said in the locker room, ‘hey it’s the fourth quarter in the first quarter tonight.’ So that was the mentality, we wanted to play four fourth quarters.”

The Sachems jumped out to a quick 9-0 run in the opening period, capped off by a three-pointer from Alessia Salzillo. Saugus remained ahead at 9-0 until Olivia Matela knocked in a three in the final seconds to put Swampscott on the board. Swampscott struggled to score points and the Sachems led 9-3 after one.

“Saugus’ pressure is so tough,” Swampscott coach Katelyn Leonard said. “Their offense is really good. Turnovers hurt us, they caused a lot of turnovers for us. That gave them the momentum.”

The Big Blue began to find their rhythm on offense in the second quarter. Hannah Leahy stormed her way into the paint for a lay-in and added a free throw to put Swampscott back in the game, down 11-6.

“Our girls fought,” Leonard said. “We never quit. We had a couple of runs but we just kind of ran out of gas towards the end.”

Saugus opened a double-digit lead when Nazzaro swished a three to put the Sachems ahead, 16-6, midway through the quarter. Emily Guiney snuck a layup in for the Big Blue before the end of the quarter, but Saugus led 23-12 at the half.

“It was tough to dig out of that,” Leonard said of Swampscott’s early deficit. “We had some good runs, it just wasn’t enough.”

Swampscott began the third quarter with a 5-0 run thanks to a bucket from Matela and a conventional three-point play by Leahy. The pair’s efforts made it a six-point deficit at 23-17. Kiley Ronan’s putback with a minute to play gave the Sachems an 11-point advantage again at 33-22. Saugus led 33-24 after three quarters.

“Swampscott’s a great team,” Schruender said. “They were without two of their leaders today in Jaymie Caponigro and Katie Watts. They’re still a deep team, all five players can hurt you. We haven’t beat them in a while. Coach Leonard is incredible and we have a lot of respect for their program so getting the win is awesome.”

The Big Blue made it a seven-point game after Ella Parker powered her way to a bucket in the paint in the fourth quarter, but Saugus answered with another three from Salzillo. The sophomore guard’s three-pointer bumped the lead to ten, 38-28, and Saugus closed out the win, 44-32.

Matela led the Big Blue with 14 points, while Leahy contributed with 12.

The duo of Valente and Salzillo guided Saugus in the win. Valente scored 14 points and Salzillo finished with 12. Nazzaro added five points.

Saugus finishes the regular season at 16-6 and now awaits the state tournament pairings, which will be announced on Friday.

Swampscott, also in the tournament, stands at 9-10 and visits Lynn English on Wednesday.

“We’re going to forget about this one tonight,” Leonard said. “English is another good team but it’s good that we’re getting tested this week because we’ll face a good team in the tournament. We’re hoping that the ball falls a little bit for us tomorrow night and we get that win.”

School Roundup: Tech makes the tournament

FILE PHOTO
Rob Wallace led Tech with 25 points in the win. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

The Lynn Tech boys basketball team beat Essex Tech, 73-45, at home on Thursday night.

With Tech’s third win in a row, the Tigers clinched a share of the CAC Small. The win puts Tech in the state tournament.

“They were super excited, they were elated,” Tech coach Stevie Patrick said. “They can’t wait to play and have the experience. They’re happy to have accomplished this.”

Rob Wallace led the way with 25 points, Belmin Berilo added 12 points and Dantai Robertson scored 10. Aquemini Gaston dished out 10 assists. After starting the season 0-8, Tech has seen a huge turnaround.

“Our goal wasn’t to go undefeated,” Patrick said. “Our goal was to win the division and get in the tournament. This will do wonders for them on and off the court. It’s great for the school and the students.”

Tech visits Minuteman on Friday night. If the Tigers win, they clinch the CAC Small.

“We’ve been playing hard,” Patrick said. “That’s been working for us.”

BOYS BASKETBALL

Marblehead 66, Swampscott 42

Derek Marino logged a double-double, scoring 16 points with 10 rebounds. Bo Millett showed his power in the paint, grabbing 17 rebounds for the Magicians.

“Give Swampscott credit,” Magicians coach Mike Giardi said. “They played hard. They have really good athletes and they played with intensity tonight. Give them credit for bringing energy.”

The Magicians host Classical on Friday for a big NEC matchup. “I think both teams are going to be hyped up for it,” Giardi said. “It’s a great opportunity. It’s going to be two talented teams battling each other.”

For Swampscott, AJ Venuti scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds. Jake McIntire also scored 10 points with four rebounds and four assists. The Big Blue host English on Friday, a must-win game for the Bulldogs. If English wins, the Bulldogs are in the state tournament.

Beverly 63, Danvers 38

With the win, the Panthers clinch a spot in the state tournament. Luigi Derrane scored 19 points, while Pat Gavin (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Hugh Calice (13 points, 11 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles in the win.

Revere 62, Peabody 52

With the win, Revere is in the state tournament. Curtis High scored 18 points, Marvin Urdaneta added 10 points and Gerald Jean-Charles chipped in with nine points.

“I’m happy for the guys,” Revere coach Dave Leary said. “We started the season slow but improved as the season went on and we never quit.”

For the Tanners, Moise Irizarry led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Chris Canela added 11 points for Peabody (13-7).

“Revere came in and they did a really nice job against us tonight,” Peabody coach Thad Broughton said. “We struggled offensively and they really hurt us on the boards.”

The Tanners host Somerville on Friday night.

Winthrop 69, Saugus 53

Matt Waggett led the way with 12 points in the home loss for the Sachems (6-13), while Chris McGrane added 10 points and Ronnie Lusso had nine points.

Saugus is back in action tomorrow night at home against Everett.

Gloucester 50, Salem 46

Ethan Espinal was Salem’s leading scorer with 19 points.

“He (Espinal) played well,” Witches coach Tom Doyle said. “He stepped up to bring us back into the game. We got down double-digits a couple times and he hit some big shots to bring us back in.”

Nate LeBron scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds for Salem. With the win, Gloucester keeps its tournament hopes alive.

“Gloucester’s fighting to get in the tournament,” Doyle said. “They played well. It was a back and forth game.”

The Witches (9-8) are back in action on Friday, when they host Beverly.

BC High 66, St. John’s Prep 56

The Eagles were led by Nate Hobbs, who scored 19 points. Tommy O’Neil contributed with 18 points and Matt Relihan added 12. The Eagles (14-5) are off until Sunday, when they play against Bishop Fenwick at Beverly.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Saugus 45, Winthrop 27

With the win, the Sachems clinched the NEC Small. The feat is one that’s been long overdue for the Saugus girls program.

“It’s our first banner since the ‘80’s” Saugus coach Mark Schruender said.

The Sachems featured a balanced attack on the offensive side of the ball. Krissy Italiano led the team with nine points, while Alessia Salzillo and Olivia Valente each scored eight. Rachel Nazzarro added seven points.

“It was nice to see the kid’s reactions after the game,” Schruender said. “They’ve put in a lot of work and sacrifices into this season. It was nice to see them react.”

Saugus hosts Malden on Friday for senior night.

 

Sachems mean business this season

FILE PHOTO
Olivia Valente, a senior captain, has led the Saugus Sachems to a 14-5 record this season. 

By KATIE MORRISON 

The Saugus girls basketball team is making huge strides.

Two seasons ago, the Sachems were in rough shape, winning just one game. A year later, Saugus turned things around, going .500 (11-11) and sneaking into the tournament before falling to Georgetown, 42-34, in the first round.

This season, the final three games on the schedule won’t be nearly as stressful as they were last year. The Sachems locked up a tournament berth long ago, and sit at 14-5 with the season winding down.

Fourth-year coach Mark Schruender says that his team is taking things not just one game at a time, but one practice at a time.

“We’re trying not to look ahead to the tournament, just to the next practice,” Schruender said. “The girls can’t wait for the next day’s practice, it’s fun. Every day is our biggest of the season. It sums up our day-to-day mentality that every game and every practice is so important.”

Saugus’ group of upperclassmen knows better than anyone not to take any game for granted. Four of the current five starters for Saugus played with that one-win team in 2014-15. Playing through that adversity has helped shape the senior group, and the team’s veterans pass the lessons they’ve learned down to the underclassmen.

“It starts with the seniors,” Schruender said. “We have great leadership. Nothing is taken for granted. They know every team we play against is good, and we’ve played nothing but competitive games. The kids understand that, and the younger kids start to fall in line behind them.”

One of those seniors is team captain Olivia Valente, who is arguably the group’s most talented offensive player. Valente leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging a double-double this season.

“She works hard every single day,” said Schruender of Valente, who has played with the varsity squad since her freshman year. “She’s a very humble kid, too. She doesn’t worry about the stats; I’ll have to tell her she scored 19 points the other night, she doesn’t talk about herself.”

Another key piece on the floor is point guard Alessia Salzillo. The sophomore “knows defense is the most important thing for her,” said Schruender.

Then there’s the twins, senior captains Krissy and Katie Italiano. Krissy Italiano has more of an impact on the court; Schruender says the team calls her the “madman” on the full court press. Krissy brings energy and hustle to the squad, and Schruender says he doesn’t think anyone takes more steps than her during a game.

Katie Italiano is more of a vocal leader, serving as one of three captains and one of the five seniors who lead the group.

The underclassmen, on the other hand, also have a natural chemistry. Schruender says that the majority of the freshmen and sophomores have been playing together since sixth grade, at least.

“They put a lot of hours in, and that’s huge,” Schruender said.

“They’re a close group of kids,” the coach added, speaking of the team as a whole. “They like each other, they hang out outside of basketball.”

The collective positive attitude of the Saugus squad helped propel it to a 5-0 start this season. The Sachems’ first loss came against perennial Catholic Central League power St. Mary’s, a 61-37 rout. But Schruender didn’t need to worry about building his team back up after a tough defeat.

“They came out of that game even hungrier,” he said. “They were saying how they wanted to work in the offseason to get better. The way we’ve handled losses and things outside our control is very mature. It speaks to them as people and who they are off the court. You can’t grow as a player unless you grow mentally as well.”

Even scheduling St. Mary’s, a team that plays in a tougher league and has seen big success over recent seasons, speaks to just how far the Saugus program has come in three short years. However, Schruender reiterates that his players are keeping things in perspective.

“At least around me, they don’t (get ahead of themselves),” he said. “I hope it continues that way, because we’re doing a disservice to ourselves if we’re thinking too far down the road.”

As a coach, it seems like Schruender is heeding that same advice. He said the key to the steady progress has been reinforcing the basics of the game.

“We’re just continuing to grow, every game is an opportunity to get better,” Schruender said. “We’re making a whole lot less mistakes and understanding our plays and our philosophy better.

“We’re getting better at fundamentals, just things like layup form, dribbling, basic things,” Schruender added.

That mentality extends to preaching communication on the floor, defensive structure and even just getting energy from each player, including the bench.

“That energy shows even at practice, with girls cheering from the bench,” Schruender said.

One of the Sachems even brought in pictures of the Saugus bench and one of an opponent’s bench to show the impact made when the bench is into the game.

With the tournament on the horizon, the Sachems’ focus is still on their next game, which is Friday at home against Malden. Saugus will honor its five seniors: the Italiano twins, Valente, Alexandria Lembo and Angellina Nou.

Saugus comeback falls short in Peabody

FILE PHOTO
Senior Katie Wallace scored 15 points in Peabody’s win over Saugus on “Senior Night.” 

By HAROLD RIVERA

PEABODY — Saugus girls basketball coach Mark Schruender was proud of his team’s performance on Friday night at Peabody. Although the Sachems fell to the Tanners, 58-53, the final score doesn’t tell the story. The Sachems fell behind, 52-41, midway through the fourth quarter and climbed back to within one point before Peabody held on to close out the win.

“We knew we had to take it one possession at a time,” Schruender said. “There’s no 11-point play in basketball. We just had to chip away at it, but unfortunately we fell short and ran out of time. It was an unbelievable effort. I’m so proud of our kids.”

The Sachems ran out to an early lead in the first quarter when Alessia Salzillo nailed a three to give Saugus a 9-4 advantage. Peabody stole the lead at 10-9 before Salzillo hit another shot from beyond the arc to re-take the advantage for Saugus at 12-10. Peabody’s Catherine Manning knocked in a pair of free throws to end the quarter at a 12-12 tie.

Things started to turn in Peabody’s favor in the second quarter, with the Tanners offense orchestrating an 8-4 run to start the period. After a Saugus timeout, Peabody added six points to mount a double-digit lead at 26-16. With a pair of late buckets from Hannah Pellizzaro, the Tanners outscored Saugus 20-7 in the quarter and led 32-19 at the half.

“Our fastbreak worked for us,” Peabody coach Stan McKeen said. “We forced a couple of turnovers in that second quarter and we were making our shots.”

Peabody’s zone defense spelled trouble for the Sachems at the end of the half.

“Their 3-2 zone didn’t allow us to execute and do what we wanted to do,” Schruender said. “I give them credit, but we weren’t reversing the ball and our guards needed to attack more, which they did in the second half. Overall, Peabody’s a good team.”

Allie Kotkowski knocked in a three on the opening possession of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 10 at 32-22. Salzillo took center stage in the quarter, scoring nine points in hopes of leading the Sachems back into the contest but Peabody stayed in front, 44-31, at the end of three.

“She’s (Salzillo) relentless,” Schruender said. “She has no quit. She’s our energizer bunny. Her best asset is her defense. Her defense energized our team tonight and led us in that comeback.”

Down 52-41 with four and a half minutes remaining in the game, Peabody looked to have a win in its back pocket. Unfortunately for the Tanners, Saugus made things interesting in the late stages.

Taylor Bogdanski drained a three and Olivia Valente added a bucket for Saugus to trim the deficit to six points at 52-46. Salzillo drove to paint for a make and a drew a foul to get the Sachems closer at 52-49 with just under three minutes left on the clock.

After a stop on the defensive end, Kotkowski knocked home a layup and the Sachems were down a point at 52-51 with two minutes to play. Melissa Gray and Nene Onwuogu made shots to give the Tanners breathing room at 56-51, but Kotkowski answered with a hookshot to make it a one-possession game again.

Katie Wallace sunk a pair of free throws with six seconds remaining to ice the win for Peabody, 58-53.

“They made a great comeback,” McKeen said. “Saugus didn’t get tired. They ran up and down the floor all the time. They created some turnovers and we missed some shots in the fourth quarter. We missed some shots, they got rebounds and they beat us up the court because they’re well-conditioned. Those kids just ran and it was very impressive.”

McKeen added, “We made some key plays down the stretch. We forced Saugus to foul and made the free throws at the end. It was a good game.”

For Saugus, Salzillo led the team with 15 points, while Kotkowski added 11.

Wallace led Peabody with 15 points, while Nene Onwuogu scored 13 and Gray finished with 12.

Both teams are back in action on Monday. Peabody (11-5) visits English and Saugus (14-5) hosts Swampscott.

Before the game, a ceremony was held to honor the seniors on both teams as part of Peabody’s “Senior Night.”

School Roundup: Peabody girls clinch tournament bid

FILE PHOTO
Melissa Gray and the Tanners clinched a spot in the state tournament with Tuesday’s win. 

By MIKE ALONGI 

After missing out on a chance at the state tournament last year, the Peabody girls basketball team punched its ticket to the state tournament with a 44-42 win over Northeastern Conference opponent Beverly on Tuesday night.

“We talked about it a little before the game tonight,” said Peabody coach Stan McKeen. “Last year, we had nine wins and lost our final two games to miss the tournament. So this year, we wanted to get it done as soon as possible, and we were able to do it with five games left in the season. It feels great and I’m very proud of all the work the girls have done.”

Melissa Gray led the way in this one, almost notching a rare triple-double with 25 points, nine rebounds and eight steals. Alyssa Alperen had seven points and Catherine Manning played a great defensive game.

The Tanners will face a tough test on Friday night when they take on a 14-4 Saugus team at home.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Revere 65, English 33

The Patriots continued their strong season Tuesday night at home, cruising to a win over the Bulldogs. Revere had three players score in double-figures, as Valentina Pepic led with 14 points, Pamela Gonzalez added 12 and  Meghan Gotham chipped in 10.

Saugus 45, Marblehead 26

Olivia Valente had 14 points to lead the way for the Sachems, who improved to 14-4 with the win. Krissy Italiano added 10 points, while Rachel Nazzaro had six assists in the win.

“I think the key for us was having a great defensive performance,” said Saugus coach Mark Schruender. “That really helped us gain a lead and then hold onto it for the rest of the game.”

Saugus will take on Peabody on the road Friday night.

Cambridge Comm. Charter 42, KIPP 38

KIPP senior Favour Ofuokwu just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds as the Panthers fell to 9-3 on the year. Junior Nayeli Germosen had seven points and rebounds, while senior Krystal Campbell and sophomore Naudia Resnek both played well defensively.

KIPP will play a road game against Foxborough Regional Charter on Wednesday night.

Archbishop Williams 59, Bishop Fenwick 31

With the loss, the Crusaders drop to 10-6 on the season.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Marblehead 77, Saugus 37

The Magicians had 12 players score in their big victory at home on Tuesday night, led by Derek Marino’s 14 points and three steals. Bo Millett added a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Marblehead got off to a hot start on the defensive end, forcing turnovers and getting Saugus out of rhythm early on.

“Our focus was to put a lot of pressure on them defensively, and it worked out well,” said Marblehead coach Mike Giardi. “We got them off their game pretty early and then were able to take control from there.”

The Magicians (15-2) now have a huge Northeastern Conference matchup with Lynn Classical on Friday night.

For Saugus (6-11), Cam Williamson led the way with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Keyshawn Redden-Lee had nine points. The Sachems will travel to Peabody to face the Tanners on Friday.

Peabody 66, Beverly 60

Peabody improved to 11-6 with a close win over Beverly on Tuesday, led by Matt D’Amato’s 16 points and four assists. Moise Irizarry had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Jake Irvine had 12 points. Chubukem Onwuogo contributed eight points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.

The Tanners will take on Saugus at home on Friday night.

For Beverly (9-6), Pat Gavin had a double-double with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Luigi Derrane had 14 points, while Hugh Calice had 11 points and eight rebounds.

Bishop Fenwick 77, Archbishop Williams 63

It was a big night for Fenwick senior captain Ryan Veguilla, who finished with 26 points in the win. Klaus Llanaj also had a great night, finishing with 19 points. The Crusaders will take on Arlington Catholic on the road on Friday night.

Salem 70, Winthrop 64

The Witches earned a state tournament berth with a close win over Winthrop on Tuesday night. Anthony Pena led the way with 21 points, while Vinnie Gaskins added 18 points and five rebounds. Henny Vlaun had 10 points in the win.

Salem will take on Beverly on Friday night.

Caponigro, Swampscott hold on to down Saugus

FILE PHOTO
Jaymie Caponigro scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the winning effort. 

By MIKE ALONGI 

SWAMPSCOTT — The Swampscott girls basketball team kicked off Thursday’s game with a 22-point quarter, but still had to hold on for a 44-37 win over the Saugus Sachems at Swampscott High.

“We started out really strong in that first half, especially with that big first quarter,” said Swampscott coach Katelyn Leonard. “Then in that second half we had to weather the storm. Saugus is a great team and they’re relentless, but we were able to hold them off.”

Jaymie Caponigro led the way, with a near double-double at 20 points and nine rebounds. Caponigro also played a great defensive game for the Big Blue (6-7).

“That’s probably the best I’ve seen her shoot, she was on fire today,” said Leonard. “And I think that also helped open things up for other girls, which is always what you want.”

Olivia Matella contributed 10 points and three rebounds, while Hannah Leahy scored six points and grabbed eight rebounds.

For Saugus (10-4), Olivia Valente just missed a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds, while Krissy Italiano had nine points and seven rebounds. Alessia Salzillo had seven points and three rebounds.

“I think all of us can acknowledge that this wasn’t our best performance out there, coaching or playing,” said Saugus coach Mark Schruender. “Swampscott is a great team and we know we always have to be ready for a battle against them, but we just didn’t execute well enough tonight.”

The Big Blue came out firing in this one, opening the game with a 7-0 run en route to a 22-7 lead after the first quarter. Saugus improved its rebounding a bit in the second quarter, but Swampscott was able to keep hitting shots and kept the lead at 15 points at halftime, 29-14.

“Swampscott has some unbelievable players, and they all can shoot,” said Schruender. “They have plenty of players who can go out there and beat you, and that’s what they did tonight.”

The Sachems made their comeback in the fourth quarter. Still down 13 points to start the final frame, Saugus shut things down on defense and cut the deficit to six points with five minutes remaining.

But Swampscott, despite not scoring a point for the majority of the fourth quarter, was able to hold on to the ball and walk away with a seven-point win.

Swampscott will match up with Winthrop on Tuesday, while Saugus will face off against Somerville on Monday.

Revere stays undefeated, clinches tournament berth

FILE PHOTO
Valentina Pepic scored 22 points for Revere in the 57-30 win over Saugus. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

SAUGUS — Last week the Saugus girls basketball team downed undefeated Danvers, handing the Falcons their first loss of the season. History often repeats itself, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case for the Sachems on Thursday night.  

The Sachems fell to Revere, 57-30, at Saugus High. With the win, the Patriots (11-0) clinched a spot in the state tournament and remained undefeated.

Although the score indicates an easy road to victory for the Patriots, the game didn’t start that way. Revere’s Valentina Pepic had the hot hand in the early stages, scoring eight points in the opening quarter. The Sachems kept pace thanks to Taylor Bogdanski, who nailed a three with 12 seconds to play in the quarter. Revere led 10-9 after one.

Saugus committed a number of costly turnovers in the second quarter and fell into an offensive funk.

“Revere’s length bothered us,” Saugus coach Mark Schruender said. “They got into our passing lanes. There were plays where it seemed like momentum wasn’t on our side and we’re a momentum team.”

Revere opened the second quarter on an 8-1 run led by a three from Pamela Gonzalez and a pair of buckets knocked down by Pepic and Emily DiGiulio. The Patriots carried a 24-14 advantage into the half.

“I think we came out strong defensively,” Revere coach Lianne O’Hara said of the team’s performance in the second quarter. “We got a bunch of stops and scores and that opened up our lead. We work really hard on our defense.”

With a new half of basketball left to play, the Sachems looked to climb back into the game but Revere didn’t slow down. The Patriots opened up a 20-point lead after three quarters and remained hot through the fourth. Revere’s biggest advantage was a 28-point lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

Aside from turnovers the Sachems were also outrebounded, and it cost them.

“I have to coach better,” Schruender said. “We didn’t work on boxing out on hard crashes from the perimeter, and that’s my fault. Revere made a lot of perimeter rebounds. Sometimes we’d get the rebound and we’d lose it on a deflection, luck wasn’t on our side.”

For Revere, Pepic led the way with 22 points and nine rebounds.

“She (Pepic) works hard to finish,” O’Hara said. “She grabs rebounds and keeps the ball over her head where guards can’t get it and she’s able to finish her shots.”

Gonzalez scored 11 points with five rebounds. Elizabeth Lake added five points.

Olivia Valente led Saugus with six points while Bogdanski and Allie Kotowski each scored five.

The Sachems (9-3) will attempt to bounce back on Tuesday at Beverly.

“We’re a game-to-game, day-to-day team,” Schruender said. “We’ll get it after it on Sunday at practice.”

Revere aims to stay undefeated on Tuesday when the team hosts Gloucester.

“We’re looking to improve defensively,” O’Hara said. “If we can limit teams from scoring, winning is a little bit easier.”


Harold Rivera can be reached at hrivera@itemlive.com. 

School Roundup: Sachems win in Quinlan’s return

FILE PHOTO
Ryan Groark and the Sachems thumped Fenwick, 5-4, on Monday at Kasabuski Arena. 

By MIKE ALONGI 

It may have been a non-conference game, but it was still a big one for both teams at Kasabuski Arena on Monday when former Saugus boys hockey coach Jim Quinlan returned for the first time as an opposing coach with his Bishop Fenwick Crusaders. The Sachems (6-1-2) got the win, 5-4, in a hard-fought game.

“It was a great team win,” said Saugus coach Jeff Natalucci. “Our effort and hard work was unbelievable. We continue to be a resilient team in these games that go back and forth, which is a great sign.”

Brendan Ronan was the points leader for Saugus, notching a goal and two assists in the win. Nick Moore, Ryan Groark, Dante McGrane and Brenden Patterson each scored one goal. Colby Murphy, Ryan Granara, CJ Graffeo, Adam Rodrigues and Mike Sarnacchiaro each had one assist. The Sachems will face off against Swampscott in a Northeastern Conference matchup on Wednesday night.

For Fenwick (3-7-0), Rob Murphy led the way with two goals. Jimmy Moore had a goal and an assist, while freshman Tom Estella scored his first career varsity goal. Kasey O’Brien, Nick Durbano, Paul Papageorgiou and John Bernbaum each had one assist. The Crusaders will host Arlington Catholic on Saturday.

BOYS HOCKEY

Marblehead 2, Westfield 1

James McCarthy and Drew Cioffi each scored a goal as the Magicians improve to 5-4-2 on the year. Aidan Gillis and Braden Haley each had one assist.

Marblehead will face off against Medford at Salem State on Saturday.

Peabody 4, Lincoln-Sudbury 0

The Tanners notched their first win of the season with a shutout performance on the road on Monday. Connor McCarron led the offense with two goals, while Nick Merryman and Nick Capillo each scored one. Goalie Aaron McDonnell had the shutout in net.

Peabody (1-6-2) will travel to Connery Rink on Saturday to take on the Lynn Jets.

St. John’s Prep 4, Woburn 1

Tim Usalis scored two goals in the first few minutes to help spur to Eagles (3-3-2) to a non-conference win at O’Brien Arena in Woburn on Monday. Kyle Hentosh had a goal and an assist, while Evan Beers added one goal. Christian Kukas and David Sacco each contributed one assist.

St. John’s will be back in Catholic Conference action on Wednesday night when they travel into Boston to take on BC High.

GIRLS HOCKEY

St. Mary’s 10, Central Catholic 0

Brittany McPherson had a four-point night (three goals, one assist) to help lift the Spartans to a big win at home. Marina DiBiasio had a goal and two assists, while Natalie Mellen, Ashley Wojewodzic and Sarah Ryan each had one goal and one assist. Aylah Cioffi, Kate Grey and Zoe Solomons each scored one goal and Codi Butt, Mady Hentosh and Adara Nazarian each had one assist.

The Spartans (7-2-0) will take on Winthrop/Lynn/Saugus at Connery Rink on Saturday.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Tech 63, St. Clements 35

The Tigers stayed hot and pulled to .500 on the season with a lopsided win on the road. Tech (5-5) was led by Alondra Sanchez, who put up 18 points, and Arianna Anaya, who added 16. Annmarie Teixeira (11 points) and Michayla Lawrence (8 points) also played well for the Tigers.

“This is something we’ve been striving for the last few games,” Tech coach Kaitlyn Wechsler said of reaching .500.

Saugus 48, Northeast 22

The Sachems were led by strong Krissy Italiano who scored 12 points in the win. Olivia Valente (11 points) and Alessia Salzillo (9 points) also contributed with strong performances. “It was a good game,” Saugus coach Mark Schruender said. “We came out strong and played good defense. We did some good things today.” Saugus (9-2) will look to make it a three-game win streak when the Sachems host Revere on Thursday.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Saugus 67, Northeast 43

Saugus notched a much-needed win behind a strong outing from Demetri Filaretos (20 points). Matt Waggett (10 points) and Chris McGrane (9 points) also made big contributions in the winning effort.

“It was a good win for us,” Sachems assistant coach Mark Bertrand said. “We’ve had our struggles over the last few weeks. Coach (Paul) Moran and I emphasized that we need to play for all four quarters. We did a good job against their press. The effort was outstanding, it was all about effort tonight.”

The Sachems (3-7) are back in action on Wednesday when they host Lynn Tech. Saugus beat Tech in the season opener for both teams back in December.

“They’ll be a lot more improved,” Bertrand said of the Tigers. “That was a good game for us to start but we’ve had some struggles along the way. I expect a really good game. They play in a tough conference like us, so I expect a good game.”

St. John’s Prep 68, Brighton 63

Down by 10 points moving into the fourth quarter, Nate Hobbs and the Eagles were able to turn things around and rally for the win. Hobbs put together a strong game with 26 points, while Brett McNiff logged a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. The Eagles (7-1) will aim to stay on the win column when they host Xaverian on Tuesday night.

School Roundup: Milestone night for Howard

FILE PHOTO
Gretchen Howard earned her 18th career shutout in Wednesday’s win. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

It was a special night for the Winthrop/Lynn girls hockey team, as the Bulldogs topped Medford, 7-0, at Larsen Rink.

Abby Carleton and Kayla Morrill scored their first career goals for Lynn/Winthrop, but the night belonged to senior goalie Gretchen Howard, who notched her 18th career shutout, breaking the team record previously held by Boston College’s Katie Burt. Howard made 13 saves in the contest.

“She (Howard) was great,” Lynn/Winthrop coach Anthony Martucci said. “She didn’t have to make too, too many saves. She had 13 tonight. She’s been the backbone of our team for the last two years.”

Sydney Adamson scored two goals while McKayla Norris added a goal and an assist in the winning effort. Lynn/Winthrop (5-2) will look to stay on the win column when the team hosts Marblehead on Saturday. “We know they always play us tough,” Martucci said of the Magicians. “They’re a good team. We’re hoping to have another strong game and we’re looking for another win.”

St. Mary’s 3, Arlington Catholic 1

The Spartans improved to 5-2 behind goals from Aylah Cioffi, Sarah Ryan and Codi Butt.

BOYS HOCKEY

Marblehead 5, Beverly 1

The Magicians took a 1-0 lead into the second period, and the offense heated up from there. James McCarthy extended the lead to 2-0 before Beverly scored its only goal midway through the second. Braden Haley added two goals and Aidan Gillis scored once to give Marblehead some breathing room.

Swampscott 5, Revere 2

Trailing 2-0 after the first period, the Big Blue netted five unanswered goals to get the win. Stevie Santanello found the back of the net twice while Louis Olivieri, Kevin Lombard and Brett Benoit eached scored one.

Danvers 3, Peabody 1

Connor McCarron gave the Tanners (0-6-1) a 1-0 lead but the Falcons scored three unanswered goals to claim the win. Rob Tibbetts scored two goals for Danvers, while Connor Purcell added an insurance goal in the late stages of the game.

Peabody goalie Aaron McDonnell made 17 saves in the loss. Nick Capillo and Brandon Muise earned the assists on McCarron’s goal.

Triton 1, Lynnfield 0

A late Lynnfield shot hit the Triton crossbar with two seconds remaining and the Pioneers came up short.

BOYS TRACK

Triton 53, Tech 32

Manchester-Essex 37, Tech 35

At the CAL tri-meet on Wednesday, the Tigers fell by a close margin to Manchester-Essex but couldn’t keep pace with Triton. Top performers for Tech included Akeem Blake and Edgar Ortega. Blake took first place in three events: the high jump at five feet and 11 inches, the 50-yard dash at 5.9 seconds and the 300 at 40.6 seconds. Ortega notched the top spot in the two-mile run with a time of 11:02.2 seconds.

GIRLS TRACK

Triton 80, Tech 1

Manchester-Essex 60, Tech 7

A trio of Tech runners had a strong showing in the 50, with Carmina Oivier (7.2), Angelina Munoz (7.3) and Heidy Severino (7.9) among the top finishers. Karla Guerrero was among the top finishers in the 300 with a time of 55.8 seconds.

SWIMMING

Shawsheen 98, Tech 68

Dustin Bloom led the Tigers with his first career victory. Bloom won the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 1:14.57. Jin Purdy won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:27.91. Coral Gonzalez won the diving portion of the meet, earning 130.58 points. Allyssa Shaw came in second place in diving with 127.28 points. Romelo Lucas won first place in the 500 freestyle, while Alfred Torres earned two second place finishes (medley relay, breaststroke).

“We have a very young team of mostly ninth-graders that never swam competitively before,” Tech coach Brad Tilley said. “But they’re coming along and we’re expecting good things.”

Tech is back in the pool on Friday when the Tigers host Northeast Regional.

“A lot of our young kids are coming on,” Tilley said. “I’m very happy with the work they’ve put into the season.”

WRESTLING

Lynnfield 49, Burlington 27

Winners for the Pioneers (10-1-1) included Chris Reardon at 120 pounds, Will Glover (126), Joe Reardon (138), Aaron Gautreau (145), Connor Stead (152), Sean McCullough (160), Anthony Wilkinson (170) and Andrew DiPietro (182). “We had a couple of kids out because of injuries,” Lynnfield coach Craig Stone said. “Some of the kids bumped up in weight and they stepped up. It was a good team win from top to bottom.”

Lynnfield hosts a quad meet on Saturday against Melrose and Triton. “They bring really good competition,” Stone said. “At this point in the year you need that type of assessment to get to the next level.”

St. John’s Prep 57, Malden Catholic 15

Winners for the Prep (15-2) included Quinn Alexander at 106 pounds, Ryan Garlitz (113), Will Grady (120), Malcolm Mitchell (126), Zach Alexander (132), Sam Little (138), Chris Kwmuntis (160), Ben Klein (182), Max Rodriguez (195), Will Moulton (220) and Hunter Brown (285). The Eagles are 2-0 in the Catholic Conference.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Saugus 61, Somerville 43

After a tough loss to Classical, the Sachems (7-2) bounced back behind a career-high 17 points from Alessia Salzillo. Olivia Valente also had a strong game, scoring 13 points. Krissy Italiano contributed with nine points.

“It was a good game,” Saugus coach Mark Schruender said. “It was good for us to get mentally focused.”

The road doesn’t get any easier for the Sachems as they host undefeated Danvers on Friday. “We’ve seen them (Danvers) play a few times,” Schruender said. “They’re well-rounded and they don’t have a weakness. All of their players do something well. We’ll be challenged, we just have to go out and compete.”

KIPP 64, MATCH 16

Make that two wins on the week for the Panthers (5-1). Nayeli Germosen led the team with 21 points, while Destiny Coley-Papas contributed with 14. Kayla Keel added 11 points off the bench. Favour Ofuokwu and Angela Unubun dominated in the paint. KIPP has a quick turnaround as the Panthers host Pioneer Charter on Thursday.


Harold Rivera can be reached at hrivera@itemlive.com. 

Delgado leads Classical to win

FILE PHOTO
Classical’s Irianis Delgado led all scorers with 16 points on Tuesday night. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

Prior to Tuesday night’s game against Saugus, Classical girls basketball coach Tom Sawyer said his team would have its hands full against a talented Sachems group. Perhaps the Rams play best when their hands are full.

Behind an offensive display that saw seven different Classical scorers, the Rams rolled to a 60-37 win over the Sachems at Saugus High.

“Most impressive was that they pressed us and we handled their press,” Sawyer said. “Against Saugus, it starts with being able to handle their pressure. We were terrific tonight. Jeylly Medrano, running the point, was unbelievable handling their press. It all starts there.”

Classical seized the momentum in the early goings of the game. Paris Wilkey missed her first few shots, but the junior drained a pair of three pointers in the first quarter. Irianis Delgado muscled her way to a pair of buckets in the paint, and the Rams led 18-6 at the end of the first.

The Sachems carried their struggles into the second quarter. Classical ran a stingy 2-3 zone defense that gave Saugus issues throughout the first half.

“Classical did a good job,” Saugus coach Mark Schruender said. “They did a good job, they sped us up. I think when they started speeding us up, everybody started to take it upon themselves to come back from a poor start.”

Saugus committed three turnovers in the first two minutes of the second quarter. Classical capitalized on those mistakes with a 6-0 run that ended when Alessia Salzillo nailed a jump shot to get the Sachems back on the board. Classical led 34-12 at the half.

“Coach (Helen) Ridley and I talk before every game,” Sawyer said. “We both agreed that in this particular game we should play zone because Saugus is extremely active on offense. We gave up 12 (points) in the first half, so we stuck with it.”

Down 22 points at the start of the second half, Saugus was in need of offense. The Sachems began to hit their shots in the third quarter as a pair of free throws by Krissy Italiano slimmed Classical’s lead to 18 points at 36-18. The Rams held their end of the bargain and made a handful of buckets to carry a 48-23 advantage into the fourth quarter.

By the start of the fourth quarter, the game was in Classical’s bag. The Rams (7-3) rolled to their seventh win of the season.

Classical had three scorers in double figures. Delgado led all scorers with 16 points.

“Irianis had a terrific game tonight,” Sawyer said of the junior forward. “She’s a little banged up, had an ankle injury and didn’t know if she was going to be able to play. She’s a tough kid though, she said she wanted to play. We needed her.”

Medrano contributed with 13 points while Wilkey scored ten.

“What this shows is that we played our best game of the year,” Sawyer said. “It was an unbelievable effort by everybody, up and down our lineup. We’ll celebrate it tonight, it’s hard to win in this league.”

Classical will aim to stay on the win column when the Rams visit Gloucester on Friday.

On the Saugus side, Molly Granara led the Sachems with ten points.

“She (Granara) just competes,” Schruender said. “She’s a freshman that doesn’t know she’s a freshman. She works really hard in practice and yesterday I got on her in practice about defense. She responded really well.”

Salzillo had a strong performance of her own, with eight points.

The Sachems (6-2) will look to shake off the loss by correcting their mistakes. Saugus has a quick turnaround as the Sachems host Somerville tonight.

“Tomorrow’s a new day,” Schruender said. “We’re a game to game team. These kids are tough.”


Harold Rivera can be reached at hrivera@itemlive.com. 

School Roundup: St. Mary’s girls win fourth straight game

FILE PHOTO
Gabby Torres led the Spartans with 14 points in Friday’s win. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

The St. Mary’s girls basketball team pulled out a big win on the road as the Spartans defeated Cardinal Spellman, 53-40 on Friday night. The Spartans scored just 19 points in the first half but they found their offense in the latter stages of the game. Mashayla Johnson nailed a three-pointer towards the end of the third quarter to spark the Spartans, who pulled away in the fourth. Gabby Torres led St. Mary’s with 14 points. Temi Falayi and Olivia Nazaire hit crucial buckets in the latter stretch as they combined for 12 points in the fourth quarter. Mia Nowicki had a solid game on the defensive side. “We did some things tonight in the fourth quarter that we haven’t done all season,” St. Mary’s coach Jeff Newhall said. The win marks the fourth straight for the Spartans (5-4). “After a 1-4 start, we’re happy with what’s gone on the last two weeks,” Newhall said. St. Mary’s is back at it, again on the road, when the Spartans visit Cathedral on Monday night. “There’s no nights off in our league,” Newhall said. “We’re back to work on Sunday and we’ll get ready for Cathedral on Monday night.” Newhall added, “We’re happy, we still have a ways to go but we’re moving in the right direction.”

GIRLS BASKETBALL
Fenwick 53, Austin Prep 20

Defense was key for the Crusaders, who held Austin Prep scoreless in the second quarter to carry a 28-8 lead at halftime. Fenwick (6-1) never looked back as the Crusaders rolled to their sixth win of the season. Fredi DeGuglielmo led Fenwick with 16 points in the win. Sam Mancinelli had another strong outing at point guard with 10 points and six assists. Other key contributors included Jaxson Nadeau (11 points, six steals) and Olivia DiPietro (six points, seven rebounds). Fenwick will look to stay on the win column on Tuesday when the Crusaders host Archbishop Williams.

Classical 73, Winthrop 35

The Rams nailed a big win on the road as Paris Wilkey led Classical with 23 points. Wilkey, a junior forward, has put together a solid season for the Rams thus far. “Paris has been shooting the ball well lately,” Rams coach Tom Sawyer said. “That’s a testament to the hard work she’s put in this offseason. The hoop must have been looking real big for her tonight because everything was falling.” Soneta Srey scored 11 points while Skyler Crayton contributed with 8 points off the bench. All ten Classical players scored in the win. “We came out and shot the ball very well in the first quarter,” Sawyer said. “That got us going. Defensively, we focused on Winthrop’s best player and we did a good job in limiting her shots.” The Rams (6-3) will look to stay on the win column when they visit Saugus on Tuesday. “I’ve seen Saugus play twice already and I’m impressed,” Sawyer said. “We’ll have our hands full going over there. We’ll have to match their intensity to give ourselves a chance.”

Saugus 48, English 43

Olivia Valente (14 points, 15 rebounds) and Molly Granara (10 points, 10 rebounds) each logged double-doubles for the Sachems. Rachel Nazzaro hit a go-ahead three-pointer late in the fourth quarter. After losing a tough game to St. Mary’s earlier in the week, Saugus coach Mark Schruender said his team was looking to get back on the right track. “We knew going into the week that this game (against English) was going to be a tough game,” Schruender said. “As soon as the St. Mary’s game was over, we turned the page. It’s definitely good to get back on the right track.” The Sachems host Classical on Tuesday. “They mix up their defenses well and they’re well coached,” Schruender said of Classical. “We’ll have our hands full.”

BOYS BASKETBALL
English 72, Saugus 63

After losing two straight, the Bulldogs bounced back with a big win over the Sachems. “We had gone 1-3 the last four games so we had not been playing well,” English coach Mike Carr said. “We did a lot of good things today. We brought back the energy, that had been missing for us.” Javonte Edwards notched a double-double for English with 18 points and 12 rebounds and Tommy Rijo scored 20 of his own. Matt Waggett led the Sachems with 20 points, while Demetri Filaretos contributed with 14 of his own. “It was a very good first half,” Saugus assistant coach Mark Bertrand said. “We were hanging with them but we had a collapse in the third quarter. English is a tough team, Mike Carr does a great job there. They hit their buckets and their free throws, and we didn’t. That was the difference.” Saugus (2-5) will aim to bounce back on Tuesday at Classical. English (4-3) is also back in action on Tuesday, at Gloucester. “It was a big win for us,” Carr said. “If we’re back to giving that effort and believing in each other, I think we have a chance to be a good team.”

Cardinal Spellman 71, St. Mary’s 66
At Conigliaro Gym, the Spartans lost to the Cardinals after starting the fourth quarter on a 16-6 run. St. Mary’s led 59-58 with four minutes to play but Spellman closed out the game on a 13-6 run to notch the win. The Spartans will aim to bounce back when they host Cathedral on Monday night.

St. John’s Prep 72, Malden Catholic 71
At Malden Catholic, the Eagles hung on to fight off a late Malden Catholic rally. The Prep (5-1) grabbed its fifth win of the season. Top performers included Matt Relihan and Nate Hobbs (16 points each). Tommy O’Neill and Brett McNiff (13 points each) were also key contributors. The Eagles are off until Friday night when they host Catholic Memorial.

Beverly 53, Gloucester 51
Down 15 points at halftime, the Panthers (5-1) clawed back for the come from behind victory. Top performers for Beverly included Luigi Derrane, who scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Hugh Calice, who logged a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Pat Gavin also logged a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the win. Kevin Morency dished six assists for Beverly. The Panthers visit Marblehead on Tuesday.

 


Harold Rivera can be reached at hrivera@itemlive.com. 

Spartans hit their shots in win over Saugus

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Temi Falayi (left) of the Spartans and Olivia Valente of the Sachems battle for a rebound. 

By STEVE KRAUSE

LYNN — Two teams … two different perspectives. But at the end of the night, both, perhaps, had a better sense of where they were and where they needed to go.

That’s what the two coaches got out of Wednesday night’s 61-37 win by the St. Mary’s girls basketball team over Saugus at Conigliaro Gym.

Two years ago, the Saugus girls won one game. Last year, they finished .500. This year, they were off to a 5-0 start heading into Wednesday’s game, and the idea of competing against the perennial Division 3 powerhouse Spartans seemed like being in rarified air.

“These are the games we want to play,” said Saugus coach Mark Schruender.

Since both teams are in Division 3, it was mentioned that perhaps Saugus could see St. Mary’s again come February or March in the state tournament.

“We can’t worry about what happens in February,” Schruender said. “We just have to worry about tomorrow. Just get better tomorrow. We got better just by having played tonight. Now, we have to keep on getting better.”

St. Mary’s coach Jeff Newhall’s team has finally reached .500 for the season (4-4), and he’s happy about the way things have gone since his team opened at 0-3 and 1-4.

“I’m grateful that we’ve won three in a row (over Classical and Swampscott in the Boverini Tournament) and now against Saugus. Now we have to keep winning to get over the .500 mark.

“We got off to a rough start,” he said, “but Iike the way we responded.”

The book on St. Mary’s coming into the game was that the Spartans didn’t have any consistent outside shooting. Newhall can be thankful that his players didn’t read the book. St. Mary’s had nine three-pointers Wednesday night as it seized the early lead (15-5 after a quarter) and never let go. The Spartans increased that lead to 33-19 at the  half, and 48-30 after three.

“Despite what you saw,” said Newhall, “(Schruender) has done a very good job over there. They have a system, and they’re sticking to it, and they’re going to be fine.

“I think it’s fantastic that they want to play us,” said Newhall.

Senior Mia Nowicki hit a three for the Spartans’ second basket of the night and from there, it was bombs away. She finished up with three treys for nine points, Gabriella Torres had two trifectas on her way to 10 points, Ashley Sullivan had two three-pointers, and Mashayla Johnson and Christina Nowicki one each.

The high scorer for St. Mary’s was Temi Falayi with 11 as the Spartans spread it around. Also scoring nine points was Olivia Nazaire.

The Sachems (5-1) didn’t have anyone in double figures. Sophomore Alessia Salzillo had nine points, and freshman Taylor Bogdanski eight.

Schruender was happy with the way his team played.

“No one quit,” he said. “The effort was fantastic, all night long. I’m proud of my kids. St. Mary’s is a very good team. Good players, and good coaches. We just have to get better. That’s all.”


Steve Krause can be reached at skrause@itemlive.com. 

Saugus rallies to beat Salem

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Saugus’ Krissy Italiano and Salem’s Stephanie Cantone reach for a rebound, while Salem’s Alexis Cicco holds back Saugus’ Molly Granara.

By MIKE ALONGI 

SALEM — After falling behind by as many as 13 points in the first half, the Saugus girls basketball team rallied on the road to open the season with a 47-30 win over the Salem Witches at Veterans Memorial Field House on Thursday night. The key to the win was hard work and mental toughness, according to Saugus coach Mark Schruender.

“The kids overcame adversity tonight,” he said. “They stayed together, stayed true to themselves and stayed mentally tough, and that was really the key tonight. We have a lot of mentally tough kids on this team.”

Senior captain Olivia Valente led the way for Saugus, putting up a double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds. Another senior captain, Krissy Italiano, just missed a double-double after finishing with eight points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Taylor Bogdanski provided a spark off the bench with six points and six rebounds, while junior Allie Kotkowski, sophomore Alessia Salzillo and freshman Molly Granara each notched six points.

For Salem, junior captain Emily Fabre had 11 points and two rebounds and senior captain Alexis Cicco had seven points and three rebounds. Junior Chrishae Dunston had six points and four rebounds, freshman Stephanie Cantone had four points and four rebounds and junior captain Wildarys Correa had two points and six rebounds.

“I loved the way the kids came out, they had a great start,” said Salem coach John Fortunato. “But Saugus was really able to come out strong in the second half and give us some trouble. Give a lot of credit to them, they played a great game.”

The Witches came out strong in the first quarter, taking an early lead behind some great defense and shotmaking. At that point, Schruender knew he had to change some things up on both ends.

“We switched things up early,” said Schruender. “Salem’s full-court break gave us fits in the first quarter, and they’re a pretty smart team. But our kids stayed tough and continued to adjust on the fly to whatever Salem was doing, which was great.”

It worked, as the Sachems only gave up 12 points for the rest of the game. Not only that, but the strong rebounding combination of Valente and Italiano afforded Saugus plenty of second-chance opportunities.

“That’s nothing new,” Schruender said of the duo’s rebounding prowess. “Olivia averaged 10 (rebounds) per game last year and Krissy was right up there too, and that’s what they do. We don’t have to do too many rebounding drills with them in practice.”

Saugus cut the deficit to just six points by the end of the first half, and then came out with some full-court press defense in the second half. At first, Salem was able to fight through the press and still make shots to hold the lead. But eventually, Saugus was able to force some turnovers and continue to cut into the lead. By the end of the third quarter, it was a one-point game at 28-27 Salem.

The fourth quarter is where everything came together for Saugus and everything fell apart for Salem. The press defense began to really wear on the Witches, who started to turn the ball over more and more. Meanwhile, Saugus started hitting a bunch of shots to take the lead.

“We have a very young team, and the strong press began to really affect them as the game went on,” said Fortunato. “(Saugus) was switching things up constantly on defense, and we just couldn’t adjust quickly enough.”

The Sachems only gave up two points defensively in the fourth quarter and they scored 20, surging ahead to seal the victory.

Both teams will have the weekend off before getting back into action early next week. The Sachems will host Gloucester at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, while Salem will take on Swampscott at home at 7 p.m.

Girls test mettle in Duchane girls basketball jamboree

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Fenwick’s Sam Mancinelli gets a step on Revere’s Tatianna Iacoviello in the Duchane Jamboree Saturday at the Classical gym.

By SCOT COOPER

LYNN — The Paul Duchane Girls Basketball Jamboree is one of the first tests area teams get as they prepare for the upcoming season.

Held every year at the Classical gym, in memory of the man who taught and coached throughout the Lynn school system, the 24th annual jamboree Saturday saw English, Swampscott, Marblehead, Malden, Somerville, Medford, Saugus, Danvers, Hamilton-Wenham, Reading, Peabody, Revere, Bishop Fenwick, Georgetown and Masconomet take part.

The 16 teams each played two quarters, and the stands were filled with fans, and also quite a few area coaches, scouting and filming teams they’ll face somewhere down the line this season.

Classical came out fairly strong against Masconomet in the day’s last game, racing out to a 4-1 lead on four points by Paris Wilkey. The Chieftains took their first lead at 8-6, but a bucket by Irianis Delgado tied the score at eight apiece.

Things went south for the Rams after that, Masconomet cruised to a 29-8 lead before Skyler Creighton swished one for Classical. The Chieftains scored at the buzzer for a 31-10 final.

Rams coach Tom Sawyer said the team has to practice much harder before Tuesday night’s season opener against Everett.  

“I thought we started the game well,” he said. “The kids competed hard all night, we just didn’t finish very well after that good start.

“We’ve got to make adjustments and turn up the intensity at practice before our game with Everett. We need to practice at a much higher intensity level, and carry that high intensity level into games this season,” he said.

English scored four seconds into its game with Georgetown, Ely Guity took the tip and she floored it to the basket for an easy layup. Bulldogs coach Mackenzie Charles was coaching in his first jamboree, a 21-10 win, and he liked the effort by his club Saturday evening.

“It was a really good scrimmage for our team,” he said “I thought we played well. We’re a young team, we have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I thought we did a good job tonight,” Charles said.

“It’s early and this is a long season, but what we want to do is come out and get better every time out, and I think we did a good job in this scrimmage.

“We have a lot of things that I want to see this team get better at as the season goes on, but I liked the effort tonight from our team,” Charles said. “As long as we improve and learn something every time we step on the court, that’s what I want to see happen with this team this year.”

English senior captain Rachel Calnan was the high scorer against the Royals (9 points), and she said that hard work and communication are going to be key issues that have to be addressed by her team this winter if the Bulldogs are going to be successful.

“I thought we communicated very well on the court, and we need to keep doing that this season,” Calnan said. “We were very aggressive on the boards, and I think that’s a very good thing for our team, we have to keep playing aggressively and communicating on the court every game this season.”

Marblehead was as cold from the floor as it was outside the Classical field house early in its game against Malden. The Magicians heated up very nicely in the second quarter and rolled over the Golden Tornado, 24-10.

The Magicians were led on offense by captains Lindsay Walker and Ashley Stiles, as well as Maddie Lowi and Darcy O’Sullivan. The winners were up 9-6 after one quarter and outscored Malden 15-4 in the second quarter.  

Marblehead coach Wayne Hanscom was pleased the team kept working and broke out of its shooting slump as the game wore on.

“You only play a half, we played everyone, but we did miss a lot of bunnies,” Hanscom said. “We kept working, the girls never got frustrated, and the ball started to drop for us.”

Swampscott zipped out to a 15-1 lead over Somerville after one quarter, and Blue coach Katelyn Leonard played everybody in a 24-18 win. Swampscott’s starting five, Hannah Leahy, Katie Watts, Maggie DiGrande, Nikki Rosa and Ella Parker all scored for Swampscott early, with freshman Olivia Matella knocking down some big threes in the first quarter.

Leonard said it’s always good to have a fast start.

“We looked really strong early on, we were working really well with and without the ball,” Leonard said. “It’s all about defense with us, and I think we played a very solid game today, defensively.”

Saugus took a 15-0 lead into the break against Medford, and cruised past the Mustangs, 29-6.

Sachems coach Mark Schruender liked the high-energy game his team played.

“We started great,” he said. “Too bad we can’t save some of those points. It was a great start for our team.

“The girls were very hungry out there, I thought. You practice for a couple of weeks and see the same faces, so tonight, against another team we came out really well, we played very hard, and I’m happy about that. Let’s hope it continues.”

Peabody had a tough time in its game against Reading. The Tanners had three starters watching the game from the bench with injuries and lost 28-8. Peabody got a bucket from Catherine Manning and free throws by Liz Zaiter, Hannah Pellizzaro Alyssa Alperin and Katie Wallace. Coach Stan McKeen said there is work to do for his team.

“It was tough with three starters on the bench, but we need to get better on defense, and certainly in offense,” McKeen said. “Hopefully everyone will be back on Friday night and we can go out and play better basketball.”

Last year’s Bishop Fenwick team took the state title, and this winter seven of those players are back for coach Adam Debaggis. The Crusaders were able to spoil Revere’s Lianne O’Hara’s Duchane head coaching debut with a 20-15 win. It wasn’t O’Hara’s first Duchane game; she was an assistant for many years with Fenwick.

Revere was coming off a hard-fought, emotional win Friday night at St. Mary’s.

Samantha Mancinelli, Sammi Gallant, Olivia DiPietro and Elizabeth Pica led the way on offense for Fenwick. Valentina Pepic, Elizabeth Lake, Pamela Gonzalez and Tatiana Iacoviello had buckets for the Patriots.

“Last year was last year, it was exciting, but this year is this year,” Debaggis said. “We miss Lianne a lot, but we’re focused on a big season, and we have a lot of work to do, as long as we all work hard, we will be a tough team to beat.”

“We kind of started off a little slow (down 8-0), a little messy, so we have to work on that, come out a little better to start games,” O’Hara said. “I love this tournament, I loved it when I was at Fenwick, I love it now that I’m with Revere. We just need to come out a little better in games and we’ll got from there.”

Danvers and Hamilton-Wenham played a thriller in their game. It looked like the Generals would have an easy ballgame, going up 16-3 early in the first. The Falcons hung around, fought back and trailed by a bucket after a steal and a swish by Tina Gigli with 11 seconds to play. Hamilton-Wenham was able to run out the clock and hold on for a 29-27 win.

 

Saugus girls ready to take the next step

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Saugus’ Olivia Valente throws up a hook shot around the defense of Tommi Hill.

By MIKE ALONGI 

After making it into the Division 3 North state tournament last year, the Saugus girls basketball team is ready to take the next step. The Sachems rattled off 11 wins in 2015-2016 after a one-win campaign in 2014-2015, and fourth-year head coach Mark Schruender credits the players who were able to make it happen.

“It was great to see all their hard work pay off,” said Schruender. “We had some great leaders on the team last year who are gone now, but we also have plenty of players who were on the team that are coming back this year. They keep improving every day.”

The Sachems lost three players to graduation last year in Mikayla Niles, Gabby Valente and Kristen Weatherbee. All three played a vital role both on and off the court and will be tough to replace.

“Not only were they great players, but they were also emotional leaders out there,” Schruender said. “They were obviously the most experienced players we had, so they had to set the tone for us and they did a great job.”

There is still one Valente on the team, however, in Gabby’s sister Olivia. A senior captain this season, Olivia averaged 10 rebounds per game last year and will once again look to be the team’s top rebounder.

The other two senior captains, sisters Katie and Krissy Italiano, will also try to dominate the paint from the forward position. Krissy is the team’s leading returning scorer (eight points per game last year), while Katie is the emotional leader on the floor.

One thing is for sure, Schruender plans on using his three captains’ athleticism to the team’s advantage this year. Olivia was an NEC All-Star in soccer this year, while the Italiano sisters were both NEC All-Stars in field hockey.

“We have a lot of great athletes on this team, so speed will be our friend,” said Schruender. “We’re going to look to get out and run this year, and I think we’ll be solid with rebounding and defending. The key will be scoring the ball, and I think we have some players who can get the job done.”

Of course, there are plenty of challenges at the start of every new basketball season, namely bringing new players with little experience into the system.

“Obviously the biggest hurdle every year is getting your new players acclimated,” said Schruender. “I’m very confident in the girls we have, I know they’re all very good players. But the fact is, you can’t simulate experience. They just need to get minutes in real game action and get used to playing out there.”

The Sachems held their first practice of the year on Monday and they still have 12 days until their first game on the road against Salem on December 15. Schruender doesn’t want to set his sights too high for the season, so he just keeps it simple with a mantra you may have heard before.

“It might be a cliche, but we’re just trying to get better every day out there,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to get each year, so the goals are to just work hard and improve every day. We’ll see what happens from there.”

Swampscott hangs on for win over Saugus

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Saugus’ Rachel Nazzaro releases a shot as Faye Parker goes for the block.

By KATIE MORRISON

SAUGUS – With the Saugus girls’ basketball team down by 14 points to Swampscott after a quarter, it looked like this game might be a blowout. But the Sachems came back and gave Swampscott some trouble, and Swampscott escaped with a 54-50 win at Saugus High.

The Sachems scored the first four points of the game, but the Big Blue went on an 18-0 run to close out the quarter and grab a commanding lead. Meghan Hartmann, who led all scorers with 25 points on the night, racked up 12 points before the end of the first.

But the Sachems weren’t without their opportunities.

“We said in the first quarter that we liked the shots we were getting, and we thought (Swampscott was) shooting very, very well. So we were just thinking that the stats were going to correct themselves,” said Saugus coach Mark Schruender.

The numbers did, indeed, even out as the game went on.

The Sachems spread out the scoring in the second quarter with Olivia Valente scoring four points and Marisa Stockwell and Alessia Salzillo chipping in three apiece. They limited Swampscott to eight points in the quarter, and held Hartmann scoreless.

“We closed out a little bit better on the shooters in the second quarter,” said Schruender. “Then we were getting good looks. In the second quarter, we moved a little bit better with the basketball, and that freed up some offensive rebounds and freed up shooters a little better and shots started going in. We got a little confidence going into halftime.”

The Sachems closed the gap to 10 at the half, 26-16.

Saugus captain Mikayla Niles, who finished with 12 points, led the Sachems in the third quarter with eight points. Krissy Italiano chipped in four, and all of a sudden, it was a tight game. The Sachems trailed by just three, 39-36, at the start of the fourth.

Swampscott responded by turning up the pressure.

We went full court, put the pressure on and try to make them make mistakes, try to contain them, because our zone was falling flat a little,” said Swampscott coach Katelyn Leonard. “I thought that got them in a kind of hurry-up offense, and helped us control the game.”

The lead switched sides often in the fourth, but Swampscott was able to get out in front thanks to some big blocks from Faye Parker and a big quarter from Hartmann.

They’re a really tough team. They’re young and feisty and they can shoot,” said Leonard. “Another two minutes, and who knows who’s game that would have been.”

Big Blue’s Jamie Caponigro scored 10 points and pulled down eight boards. Parker was a force in the paint, grabbing seven rebounds and putting up 12 points. Hannah Leahy chipped in seven points and seven boards for Swampscott.

For Saugus, Schruender acknowledge the play of his captains, Niles and Gabby Valente.

“When we’re down, like we were at the end of the first, you can say ‘uh oh, it’s one of those nights.’ And I looked at the team and said ‘we’re fine,’ and they echoed that,” said Schruender. “Gabby did everything she could, what a tough kid on defense. Mikayla had a great night on offense, right before the half she had a huge bucket at the buzzer to pull us within 10, and then in the third quarter she came out and did real well.”


Katie Morrison can be reached at kmorrison@itemlive.com.