Photo: Belmont’s Sarah Dullaghan with the layup against Reading, part of the five game winning streak the Marauders continued with its win over Arlington.
You could hear the laughter and cheering of the Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team as the bus entered the high school parking lot Friday night, Feb. 7.
And why not? The Marauders, which punched its ticket into the Div. 2 North Sectional tournament earlier in the week with its away victory over Wakefield, arrived back from a statement victory over playoff bound Arlington, 58-43, securing its 11th win and fifth in a row.
“We played the best half of the season,” said junior guard Kiki Christofori getting off the bus after avenging a four point loss in January to the SpyPonders.
The win puts Belmont (11-5) securely in second place in the Middlesex Liberty, a game clear of Lexington and Arlington, with two games remaining in the regular season.
Entering the second half a point down to the SpyPonders, 28-27, Belmont’s Head Coach Melissa Hart decided to up the defensive pressure on Arlington’s big scoring threats, juniors Claire Ewen and Ava Connolly by inserting a pair of youngsters in the line up; sophomore Meredith Christo and first year Sophie McDevitt.
And despite the efforts by Arlington to get their scorers the ball, “those two just really did a great job,” said Hart, also pointing to the effort by another sophomore Sarah Dullaghan, Christofori and junior Abby Morin as Ewen and Connolly finished the half with just 9 points.
On the other end of the court, sophomore Nina Minicozzi equaled her first half total of 7 points in the third alone before leading the Marauder charge in the fourth with nine for 23 points for the game as Belmont doubled up the SpyPonders 31-15 in the half.
Junior Reese Shapazian, who threw in three 3s in the second quarter to keep the Marauders close, finished with 10 while Christofori finished with eight as did McDevitt.
“We are playing our best at the right time,” said Hart, acknowledging that the team finishes up with home games against Burlington (12-5) and Woburn (15-1, ranked 14th in the Boston Globe Top 20) which beat Belmont by 11 earlier in the season.
“Burlington is very good and have three kids that are just long athletes so it’s gonna be a struggle,” said Hart.