The junior guard checked back in with 3:28 left to play and sunk a 3-pointer at the top of the arc, part of 15-point fourth quarter for the Mavs.
Despite trailing 11-6 after the first quarter, Manchester Valley battled back behind 20 points from Saunders to upend Winters Mill 55-42 on Wednesday.
“I think [Dahon] is becoming more confident,” said Mavs coach Bernie Koontz. “I think his teammates are looking for him. For him to be a scorer, I think he’s stepping up and being a leader both offensively and defensively.”
Brett DeWees tallied 12 points, hitting two second half 3-pointers and Dayne Koontz added 7 for the Mavs (3-6, 2-2 Carroll County Athletic League).
Koontz said he was pleased with MV’s defense in the first eight minutes but missed shots and free throws created a deficit. Coming out of the second quarter, things began to turn their way.
Led by 10 points from Saunders, Manchester Valley rallied to score 19 second-quarter points and saw momentum on its side trailing by just one bucket at halftime.
A back-and-forth effort between both sides notched the score at 37-37 through three quarters, but MV broke away, hitting 7-of-8 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Alan Jean Joseph led the way for Winters Mill with 13 points and the Falcons fall to 2-6, 0-3. The frustrations come with fielding a younger team at the varsity level, but WM coach Devon Lesniak knows his team can perform better than they played.
“We’ve got to grow up,” he said. “We’re really young and we don’t have much experience on the varsity level but we’ve got to take some strides.”
The new year brings about a fresh start for the Mavs, as they’ll look to build on a CCAL win heading into the middle of the season.
“You always want to play well in the county and be able to pull out a win,” Koontz said. “We’ve got some good games coming up with Wilde Lake and South Carroll next week. We can’t look ahead too far or relish on one game but we’ve got to keep building off of it.”
Added Saunders: “It’s good, we should be looking forward for more.”
Man Valley (55): Johnathan McGregor 2, Dayne Koontz 7, Brett DeWees 12, Hunter Olshefski 8, Jarad Rink 1, Christopher Wunder 3, Connor Rugguri 2, Dahon Sanders 20
Winters Mill (42): Chandler Gentzel 10, Khy Torian 5, Emil Serafin 8, Alan Jean-Joseph 13, John Bodden 2, Avery Serafin 2, Johnny Bobnar 2