Saugus holds off a valiant Marblehead effort

Leila Walton of the Magicians keeps pace with Jillian Ricupero of the Sachems. (Item Photo by Owen O'Rourke)

MARBLEHEAD — It was a game of runs Monday night at Marblehead High, and the Saugus girls basketball team held on for a 59-54 win over the Magicians. The Sachems led by as many as 15 points early in the fourth quarter but they still had to depend on some late free throws to seal the win.

“Marblehead really brought it tonight, they played outstanding,” said Saugus coach Mark Schruender. “Our kids did enough to win out there, but we can certainly get better. I thought we did some good things out there, but we also made plenty of mistakes.”

Taylor Bogdanski led the way for Saugus with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Shaylin Groark added 12 points on four three-pointers off the bench. Alessia Salzillo had eight points and eight rebounds, while Jillian Ricupero and Alana Aldred each had seven points. Jessica Nazzaro finished with six points.

For Marblehead, Maddy Lowy was the top scorer with 17 points. Emily Clough had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Maddie Erskine just missed a double-double with eight points and nine rebounds. Leila Walton had six points and three rebounds.

“We played hard the whole game, and I was really proud of the effort out there,” said Marblehead interim coach Paul Moran. “Saugus is a very good team and they showed that tonight. But if we can go out every night and play with the energy we showed tonight, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

Saugus started the game with a hot offensive hand, jumping out to an early seven-point lead within the first few minutes of action. But just before the Sachems could really take hold of the game, Marblehead went on a rally behind Walton and Erskine, who both came off the bench. Their spark brought the Magicians closer, and by the end of the first quarter Saugus only led 14-13.

Marblehead actually opened the second quarter by taking the lead after Lowy hit a three on the first possession, but Saugus quickly took the lead right back. Some clutch shooting and solid defense kept the Sachems ahead for the rest of the quarter, and they took a 25-20 lead into the half.

The third quarter is where Saugus took its biggest lead of the game, hitting a number of tough shots to stretch its lead to as many as 15 points. When the buzzer sounded to end the quarter, Saugus led 48-33.

But Marblehead wasn’t done, as the Magicians opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run to make it a game again. By the time there was 1:15 left on the clock, Saugus only led by six points. Then, with 15 seconds left, Kathryn Percy hit a three for the Magicians to cut the deficit to just three points. Marblehead played solid defense on the next possession and fouled Bogdanski, who hit her two free throws to ice the win for Saugus.

“We had to be mentally tough there at the end to hang on, and that was nice to see us do that,” said Schruender. “Taylor made those two big free throws to let us breathe. It’s tough to win in this league, and tonight was just another example of that.”

Next up for the Sachems (2-1) is another Northeastern Conference test against Beverly Thursday.

“Beverly is an outstanding team, they’re so disciplined defensively,” said Schruender. “Beverly always gives us problems with that defense, and so these next two days of practice will be crucial for us.”

Marblehead (0-2) will take on Gloucester Thursday.

“We’re going to continue to build on this game, as we did from our first game to this one,” said Moran. “We’ve got a great group of girls here who works hard, so we’re just going to keep pushing out there.”

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