Photo: Senior Mac Annus drives against Burlington
If familiarity breed contempt, then the boys’ basketball teams from Belmont and Reading High are about to target each others shortcomings as the Middlesex Liberty rivals meet each other for the third time this season in the opening round match of the MIAA Division 2 North sectional tournament.
The third seed Marauders (16-4) and the 14th ranked Rockets (9-9) will continue their re-re-rematch on Monday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. at Belmont’s Wenner Field House.
While the Marauders nearly doubled up the Rockets, 84-46, in the first meeting on Jan. 3, the second was a low-scoring slugfest as Belmont barely squeaked by the hosts, 45-42, on the last day of the month.
A win against the Rockets will see Belmont at home against the winners of the Billerica vs Somerville match later in the week.
Belmont had a solid second half of the season, with a 8-3 record, with a few hiccups along the way. The team retained the Middlesex Liberty title going undefeated in division play while knocking off the Middlesex Freedom champs Burlington, 70-61, running off a 17-2 punch-to-the-gut scoreline in the final 2 minutes and 30 seconds of the game.
While the squad defeated top-ten ranked hosts Catholic Memorial, it also saw its two year league and three year home undefeated streaks come to an end with losses to Freedom division foes Wakefield and Watertown. Belmont ended the season with a two-point loss to Division One Andover in the finals of the Comcast Tournament.
It was during the last half that Belmont senior forward Mac Annus joined the select few to break the career 1,000 point mark against Woburn on Seniors Night on Feb. 13.
Annus, junior forward Preston Jackson-Stephen and forward Tim Minicozzi will take on the offensive roles. Senior guard Avery Arno will join spark plug sixth man junior guard Ali Noorouzi in upping the tempo on both ends of the court. Sophomore Kevin Logan, who saw his time on the court increase after an impressive performance coming off the bench against Catholic Memorial, will add height and heft under the basket.
For long time Head Coach Adam Pritchard, the playoffs are the reward for the work the team committed to at the beginning of the season.
“They’ve been a great group to coach. They have a real bond that will important against some of the best teams in the entire state,” he said.