Photo: Smiles all-around as Belmont Head Coach Shantell Jeter (with assistant Jamel Langston) take the victory in her first game as a head coach.
Three Belmont players scored in double digits and a swarming defense provided first-time head coach Shantell Jeter a win as the Belmont High Girls’ Basketball Marauders defeated Stoneham, 58-49, in the ‘22-‘23 season opener on Tuesday, Dec. 14 in Belmont.
“It was very exciting,” said Jeter after her first game in charge of a varsity program.
“It’s just a great way to come out in our first game to send out a message that we are here, we have a new team, fresh start and we’re really excited for the season.”
Tuesday was a night for the youngsters to shine. Leading the way was first year forward Sophia McClendon who led all scorers with 17 points including a pair of threes as she came up with 7 points in the final frame when Stoneham cut the deficit to four points with less than two minutes remaining.
“At first I was a little nervous, but once I started scoring the nerves just went away,” said McClendon of her debut.
Junior Mia Ferrari ended with 11 points, nailing five free throws in the fourth while sophomore Linda Sheng drained 10 points.
It was a classic first contest out of the gate with a lot of rust needing to be removed by both teams. It appeared Belmont was ready to run away with the game in the first eight minutes, holding the Spartans to a single basket in the final seconds to take a 13-2 lead after one quarter. But Stoneham would benefit from the Marauders’ propensity to commit fouls that put the Spartans in the bonus early in the second quarter and on the line. A late burst saw Belmont leave the court with a 26-16 lead at the break.
An early three from sophomore forward Symone Jackson pushed Belmont’s advantage to 33-22 only for the Spartans to cut the lead to six after three, 35-29. McClendon started the fourth with a three and then bucket from inside to push the advantage to 11, 42-31, and when sophomore guard Brynn Connelly hit the trey from deep, the Marauders looked as if they bagged the win. But Stoneham would creep back in the game from the charity stripe and come within four points, 50-46, with 1:44 left. But Ferrari would hit consecutive free throws at the minute mark to put the game away.
Next up for Belmont will be Middlesex Liberty foe Winchester on Friday, Dec. 16, part of a doubleheader with the boys.