The Raiders rode the hot shooting of a sophomore forward to defeat Saugus 56-45 in the first round of the MIAA Div. 3 North boys basketball tournament Tuesday night and, as a bonus, gave Watertown head coach Steve Harrington his 400th career victory.
The packed WHS Gym saw the fourth-seeded Raiders and the 13th-seeded Sachems trade baskets in the first half, before Watertown pulled away in the third quarter.
Watertown sophomore forward Adam Patterson answered the call in the second half, scoring 10 of his 16 points after halftime.
“We basically went zone (defense) most of the game, and we made enough shots to take a small lead (four points) in the first half,” Harrington said. “In the second, I thought Patterson was just terrific. He carried us through when Devon Breen was in foul trouble.”
Breen, a senior guard, got his third foul early in the second quarter, and when he picked up a fourth in the third quarter, Harrington took him out. The Raiders defense was able to make stops, and built a lead of 12 points at the end of the third.
When Saugus made a run in the fourth, Watertown’s Brennan Cook hit a key shot to give the Raiders some breathing room. The senior guard ended the game with 10 points.
“We didn’t really make a ton of shots. Brennan Cook make a huge shot that I thought iced the game, and at that point we held on,” Harrington said.
Harrington sent Breen back into the game for the last stretch to help bring the victory home.
“Having him in there was a calming influence — his ball handling,” Harrington said. “We turned the ball over a few times, so it was important getting him back in the game.”
Senior Gevork Karapetyan contributed 10 points, including five in the second quarter to keep the Raiders just ahead of the Sachems, 24-22 at halftime. Breen and junior guard Matthew Oliveira ended the game with six points, each.
After the game, the Watertown players showered Harrington mini paper cups full of water. He has coached Watertown for 26 years, and said he has been fortunate to have worked with talented players and coaches.
“Coach (Nick) Paras, Coach (Matt) Coffee, Coach (Cory) Fitzgerald — his father (Jim) coached with me — Chris Mastrangelo 25 years ago was the JV coach here. Sean Fitzgerald, John Lawn coached with me. Dave Bourne was here, he was our JV coach for a while,” Harrington said. “Credit to all the coaches here, the Youth Basketball has been a major piece of our success in Watertown. And all the players — they are the ones who win the games. I’ve been lucky enough to coach a bunch of great players.”
His family also played a big part.
“I am lucky my wife and kids are here,” Harrington said. “They support me during the season.”
Harrington said is main focus was not the milestone.
“It’s been a long ride, every game. I’m most happy the kids have another game. We will get ready for our next opponent,” Harrington said. “That’s what I am most happy about, not my 400th win. It’s a nice accomplishment.”
The Raiders improved to 16-5, and will play fifth-seeded Hamilton-Wenham in the Div. 3 North quarterfinal on Sunday, March 1 at 3 p.m. in Watertown. Hamilton-Wenham (14-7) defeated Swampscott, 59-57, Tuesday night.