molly granara

School Roundup: Milestone night for St. Mary’s Falayi

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Temi Falayi scored a career-high 23 points in Friday’s win. 

By MIKE ALONGI 

After a tough start to the season for the St. Mary’s girls basketball team, the Spartans have now rattled off five wins in a row after a 65-49 win over the Austin Prep Cougars to move to 6-4 on the season. Coach Jeff Newhall says the team is still working to get better, but they are starting to hit their stride.

“I think tonight was one of the better games we’ve played this year, especially in the first half,” he said. “We played the way we’re capable of playing, and I just told them that if we continue to do that, we will be okay.”

Temi Falayi scored a career-high 23 points and added 14 rebounds and six blocks to lead the way for St. Mary’s.

“She was a force all night,” said Newhall. “She did a great job in the paint, she broke their press, she played great defense. She really did it all tonight.”

Gabby Torres scored 12 points and Olivia Nazaire scored 10 points.

The Spartans have a quick turnaround with a home game today at 5 p.m. against Fontbonne.

“This is a big one coming up for us, and it’s the halfway point of the season,” said Newhall. “But if we can get to 7-4 at the halfway mark after starting the year 1-4, that’ll be a great place to be.”

Tech 36, Minuteman 26

The Tigers rolled to a win at home to inch closer to .500 at 4-5. Arianna Anaya had a big game, putting up 11 points, while Alondra Sanchez and Annmarie Teixeira added eight apiece and Jamila Constantine scored six.

Malvelis Hernandez and Jailene Rivera provided excellent defense for Tech.

“We’re really clicking right now,” said Tech coach Kaitlyn Wechsler, who added that her team has worked hard on offense to prepare for different defenses, and that they’re working together well.

Peabody 72, Winthrop 34

Melissa Gray had 14 points and five steals and Alyssa Alperen had 12 points to help lead the Tanners to a big win. Serena Laro just missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds, while Nene Onwuogu had eight points and nine rebounds.

Peabody (4-3) will take on Bishop Fenwick on Sunday.

Arlington Catholic 48, Bishop Fenwick 35

After falling behind early, the Crusaders rallied to tie the game entering the fourth quarter, but couldn’t complete the comeback on the road Friday night. Sam Mancinelli had eight points and four assists, Sammi Gallant had six points and six rebounds and Jaxson Nadeau had six points and three steals.

Fenwick (6-3) has a home game against Peabody on Sunday afternoon.

Saugus 54, Danvers 44

The Sachems continued their strong start to the season with a 10-point win at home on Friday, moving their record to 8-2 and handing Danvers its first loss. Olivia Valente had a team-high 14 points, while Molly Granara had 10 points and Rachel Nazzaro had eight points. Krissy Italiano contributed seven points and Alessia Salzillo had five points.

Saugus will travel to Wakefield for a game against Northeast Tech on Monday.

For Danvers (7-1), Sarah Unczur had 15 points and nine rebounds, Lily Montanari had nine points and Nicole White had seven points, nine assists and six steals.

The Falcons will have a full week off before taking on Marblehead next Friday night.

Lynn Classical 53, Gloucester 37

Paris Wilkey had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds to lift the Rams (8-3) to a win on the road Friday night. Classical will take on Everett in a non-league matchup on Tuesday night.

Revere 59, Salem 25

Valentina Pepic led the way for the Patriots as Revere blew out Salem. Pamela Gonzalez and Tatianna Iacoviello scored 10 points each in the win.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Bishop Fenwick 49, Arlington Catholic 46

Junior captain Isaiah Cashwell-Doe led Fenwick (4-5) with 26 points and six rebounds, but it was senior captain Ryan Veguilla (14 points) who came up with the shot of the game, hitting a layup with 30 seconds left to put the Crusaders up by three points and seal the win.

Fenwick is back in action on Sunday afternoon when they host the Peabody Tanners.

Peabody 83, Winthrop 69

Peabody’s Junior Estrella came up one assist shy of a triple-double at home against Winthrop on Friday night, finishing with 26 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists in the win. Moise Irizarry also had a big game with 20 points, five rebounds and four steals.

The Tanners (6-2) will travel to Bishop Fenwick for a matchup with the Crusaders on Sunday.

Danvers 62, Saugus 47

Saugus (2-7) got 12 points from Haris Behremovic in the loss, while sophomore Liam Murphy contributed six points and eight rebounds in his first varsity game.

The Sachems will play Northeast Tech at home on Monday night.

Beverly 80, Swampscott 48

Pat Gavin was the top scorer for the Panthers (6-2), finishing with 17 points. Luigi Derrane was right behind with 15 points, while Duncan Moreland scored 11 points and Jack Crowley had six points.

For the Big Blue, freshmen David Coleman and Manny Psowa each scored eight points. Swampscott will take on Lynn Classical at home next Friday.

Salem 59, Revere 58

Down by two points with time winding down, Salem’s Ethan Espinal (10 points) hit the game-winning three-pointer with just three seconds left on the clock to give the Witches a close win on the road Friday night. Anthony Pena was the top scorer for Salem, finishing with 25 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals. Nate Lebron added 15 points and eight rebounds.

Salem (5-3) has a road game against Lynn English next Friday night.

Lynnfield 72, Amesbury 46

Lynnfield never trailed and held a 33-23 lead at halftime.  Louis Ellis scored a game-high 25 points with eight rebounds for the Pioneers, while Dan Jameson (9 points, 5 rebounds) and senior captain Mike Carangelo (16 points, 9 rebounds) also played well for Lynnfield. The Pioneers’ bench also factored in the win with junior Matt Mortellite (7 points, 6 rebounds) and senior Will Klotzbier (4 points, 4 rebounds) hitting timely baskets and senior Bryant Dana (5 rebounds) pulling down some key rebounds.

The Pioneers look to extend their win streak to five straight Monday at Ipswich (2 p.m.).

Shawsheen Tech 66, Lynn Tech 39

Rob Wallace led the Tigers with 13 points, while Trevon Baldwin contributed seven points. Tech has a matchup with Presentation of Mary Academy on Tuesday.

Delgado leads Classical to win

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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

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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. 

School Roundup: Magicians roll past Big Blue

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Patrick Bugler and the Marblehead Magicians rolled past Swampscott, 73-31. 

By MIKE ALONGI 

The Marblehead boys basketball team continued its impressive start to the year with a big home win over rival Swampscott, 73-31, at home on Tuesday night. Patrick Bugler scored 13 points for the Magicians (6-2), while Derek Marino added 12 points. Marblehead will try to keep its momentum going on the road Friday night against Revere.

Jake McIntire provided a spark off the bench for Swampscott, finishing with 11 points. The Big Blue will try to rebound on Friday night when they host Peabody.

Peabody 63, Revere 56

Junior Estrella had a double-double for the Tanners (3-2), finishing with 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead the way. Matt D’Amato had 17 points and five rebounds, while Chris Canela had 13 points and five assists.

Peabody will travel to Swampscott on Friday night.

Mystic Valley 74, Lynn Tech 46

Rob Wallace scored 16 points for the Tigers, who will be back in action on Tuesday afternoon on the road at Minuteman Tech.

Beverly 54, Danvers 45

The Panthers had two players record double-doubles in their home win on Tuesday, as Pat Gavin finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds and Hugh Calice finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Luigi Derrane also had a solid game with 10 points and three steals.

Winthrop 75, Saugus 57

The Sachems (2-4) got a great performance from Chris McGrane, who had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Matt Waggett also scored 17 points in the loss.

Saugus will host Lynn English on Friday for a game against the Bulldogs.

Gloucester 62, Salem 59

Despite the loss, Kevin Lebron had a big game for the Witches (3-2) with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Ethan Espinal and Anthony Pena each contributed 10 points.

The Witches have a road game against Danvers on Friday night.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Saugus 63, Winthrop 35

The Sachems continued their impressive start with a big win at home against Winthrop, moving to 5-0 on the season. Molly Granara and Krissy Italiano led Saugus with nine points each, while Allie Kotkowski and Olivia Valente each scored eight points and Angellina Nou contributed seven points.

The Sachems have a quick turnaround with a road game against St. Mary’s tonight.

Mystic Valley 59, Lynn Tech 43

Jamila Constantine led the way for the Tigers (2-4), dropping 17 points in the loss. Alondra Sanchez and Arianna Anaya each scored nine points.

Revere 65, Peabody 42

Valentina Pepic led the way for the Patriots, shooting 11-for-20 from the field and logging 31 points to go with eight rebounds. Pamela Gonzalez chipped in with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Melissa Gray and Liz Zaiter each scored six points in the loss. The Tanners (1-3) will try to rebound on Friday on the road against Saugus.

Danvers 31, Beverly 29

Lily Montanari, who logged 12 points and five rebounds on the night, hit the game-winning shot with just three seconds to play to help the Falcons top rival Beverly and stay undefeated at 5-0.

School Roundup: Classical girls fall in OT

FILE PHOTO
Paris Wilkey scored 24 points for the Rams. 

By MIKE ALONGI 

The Classical girls basketball team overcame a late eight-point deficit on the road against Danvers Thursday night to force overtime, but the Falcons held on for the 59-55 win.

Paris Wilkey led all scorers with 24 points and Soneta Srey had a big game, adding 14 points, but it wasn’t enough to deal Danvers (4-0) its first loss.

For the Falcons, Sarah Unczur logged a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, as did Lily Montanari (16 points, 10 rebounds).

Danvers coach Pat Veilleux had nothing but good things to say about the Rams.

“This was without question our biggest test so far,” Veilleux said. “Classical is multi-faceted. They’re talented, tough, physical and as they showed tonight, very resilient. Someone had to win this game, and if it had gone on any longer, I couldn’t have handled it, and I’m sure (Classical coach) Tom (Sawyer) couldn’t have either.”

Peabody 57, Beverly 41

Tanners coach Stan McKeen knew it’d be a long winter break if his team went into it 0-3, but fortunately for Peabody, it got the first win of the season out of the way against Beverly.

Sophomore Liz Zaiter had the hot hand, scoring 13 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Nene Onuwuogo had a big game as well with 10 points and eight rebounds.

Serena Laro and Katie Wallace played excellent defense for Peabody, and Wallace did a good job running the offense at point guard.

Saugus 40, Marblehead 34

Krissy Italiano put up a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds to help lead Saugus to a win, while Kiley Ronan chipped in eight points and five steals. Alessia Salzillo and Molly Granara each scored seven points in the win.

The undefeated Sachems (3-0) will hit the road for a game against Malden on Wednesday.

Swampscott 53, Gloucester 42

Maggie DiGrande hit five three-pointers en route to 18 points to lead the way for the Big Blue, and Jaymie Caponigro had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Ella Parker also had a solid game with 11 points and eight rebounds.

Swampscott (3-1) is back in action on Tuesday when they take on Lynn English in the Walter J. Boverini Tournament.

Greater Lawrence 44, Lynn Tech 42

The Tigers fell in a close game despite a great all-around team effort, according to coach Kaitlyn Wechsler. Jamila Constantine scored 15 points to pace Tech, followed by Arianna Anaya with 11 points. Alondra Sanchez had eight points and Malvelis Hernandez scored six.

Winthrop 34, Salem 32

It came down to free throws in this one between the Vikings and the Witches, and Winthrop’s Cailyn Driscoll hit the two deciding free throws to give the Vikings the close win. Driscoll finished with 13 points to lead Winthrop.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Marblehead 57, Saugus 42

Patrick Bugler had a big day for the Magicians (3-2), finishing the game with 20 points. Derek Marino added 12 points in the win.

Marblehead will be back in action on Wednesday on the road at Masconomet.

Dimitri Filaretos led Saugus with 11 points, followed by Chris McGrane with nine points. Cam Williamson had a big night on the glass with six points and 10 rebounds, and Mike Mabee provided a spark off the bench with six points.

Gloucester 89, Swampscott 70

Despite the loss, Swampscott got an impressive performance from Tony Broadnax, who notched a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds while also adding six assists. Jackson Byrne contributed 10 points in the loss.

Gloucester was led by senior captain Evan Mason’s 21 points.

The Big Blue will have all of next week off before returning to action on January 3 on the road at Marblehead.

BOYS HOCKEY

St. Mary’s 4, Hingham 1

After trailing 1-0 entering the third period, the Spartans (2-2-0) rattled off four unanswered goals to steal a victory from Hingham in the consolation game of the Serino Christmas Tournament at Valley Forum in Malden on Thursday evening.

“To come back against a team like Hingham, one of the top-ranked teams in the state, was really good to see,” said St. Mary’s coach Mark Lee. “It took a total team effort to pull this one out, and I’m really proud of all our guys for how hard they worked.”

Anthony Bono led the way with two goals, while Jason Loeser and Kyle Ouellette added a goal apiece. Dante Maribito contributed two assists in the win.

St. Mary’s will host Lowell Catholic next Thursday.

SWIMMING

Bishop Fenwick 91, Marian 68

Catherine Christuk and Sophia Lumino each scored multiple wins in the pool for the Crusaders on Thursday. Christuk won the 200-yard freestyle (2 minutes, 9.13 seconds) and the 100 breaststroke (1:12.88), while Lumino took the 200 individual medley (2:21.03) and the 500 freestyle (5:33.56). Other individual winners for Fenwick were Connor Christuk in the 50 freestyle (23.86) and Rowan Emerson in the 100 freestyle (58.60).

The Crusaders also had three relay teams take first place. The 200 medley relay team of Emerson, Connor Christuk, Garrett Collins and Michael D’Iorio won with a time of 1:54.13, the 200 freestyle relay team of D’Iorio, Lumino, Connor Christuk and Bryce McCarthy won the a time of 1:50.06 and the 400 freestyle relay team of Emerson, McCarthy, Collins and Catherine Christuk won with a time of 4:08.33.

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.