Photo: Belmont’s Cole Bartels fouled vs. Melrose.
Belmont High Boys’ Basketball went “small” in the second half to shrug off a sluggish first half to win going away, 66-58, over a game Melrose squad in the 2015-16 season opener on the road.
“We have an advantage of being able to change our lineup when the circumstance arises,” said Belmont’s long-time head coach Adam Pritchard, who spoke highly of “the juniors who stepped up” during the third quarter when Belmont’s defense held a quick Red Raider team to eight points.
Belmont was led by its senior all-star backcourt of co-captains Cole Bartels (20 points) and pre-season Middlesex League all-star point guard Matt Kerans (16 points) who threw in three threes (his only baskets of the game) to stem a Melrose surge that saw Belmont at one point trail by five (25-20) midway through the second quarter.
Belmont came out the gates strong with big men senior Luke Peterson (6 of his 8 points in the first quarter) and co-captain Justin Wagner (8 points) who put in a banked three (!) and a hoop early to lead the Marauders to an 18-13 lead at the end of the first.
At the start of the second half, (Belmont held a 37-34 lead at the half) the Marauders substituted to what at times appeared to be a four guards and one forward formation to counter the speedy home team. And Pritchard’s gamble paid off as Belmont’s perimeter defense forced the Red Raiders to take shots from distance that, turned out, was not their forte.
On offense, the inclusion of sophomore Tomas Donoyan (4 points) and three juniors; Dylan Ferdinand, Bryan Goodwin (his four points on 2-2 shooting were the only baskets for the Marauders in the final quarter) and Paul Ramsey (6 points), opened the court for Bartels who stroked a pair of threes to end the quarter with nine points as the Marauders outscored the Raiders 14-8 to grab a nine-point lead (51-42).
While the hosts cut the lead to two possessions at 62-56, there only remained half-a-minute on the clock, with Belmont feasting on the charity stripe in the final eight minutes as Bartels went 4-4 and Kerans 6-6 from the line.
Next up for Belmont is a road match at Stoneham on Friday before the home opener at the Wenner (on the new court) on Monday, Dec. 21 at 5 p.m. vs. Wilmington.