Finals Bound: Belmont Boys Rewrite Record Book In Playoff Wins Over Gloucester, Arlington

By: Junior Mac Annus who now holds the Belmont High record for 3 point baskets in a game with 12. Photo by David Johnedis

The Belmont High School Boys’ Basketball squad rewrote the records book in two playoff wins that propelled them to the Division 2 North sectional finals this Saturday, March 9 at UMass Lowell’s Tsongas Center against defending champions North Andover.

Annus smash 3s game record in semis victory over Gloucester

There is a Baker’s dozen and after Tuesday’s semifinal vs Gloucester High, there’s a Belmont dozen as junior shooting guard Mac Annus shattered the previous program record of nine three-point baskets with an eye-popping 12 to catapult the number 1 seed Marauders’ to a 79-59 victory over the visiting Fishermen in the D2 North semis played before a packed Coach Lyons’ Court at Belmont High.

“I walk through the hallway [leading into the gym] and look at the [list of records] every day and I finally broke it,” said Annus after the game in which he scored 38 points on 12 for 14 from beyond the arc. “I was feeling confident and my teammates were finding me,” he said noting the record was “extra special” as it came in a playoff semifinal.

“[Annus] is certainly a big weapon for us to have and [breaking the record] wasn’t outside of what he can do,” said Belmont Head Coach Adam Pritchard. “I’ve seen [Annus] hit 15 in a row in practice so I 

And Belmont (23-2) would need the guard’s dead-eye accuracy as the fifth-seed Fishermen (16-7) nearly ran the Marauders off the court in a frantic first quarter. Using an upbeat offensive tempo to break Belmont’s full court press and strength under the hoop (three blocks in the quarter, two by center Marcus Montagnino who scored 19 points), the Fishermen literally raced by the Marauders to build a 17-6 lead after four minutes in the quarter.

That’s when Annus began his night, hitting consecutive treys to cut the lead to 17-12. Dueling threes from Belmont’s sophomore Tim Minicozzi and Gloucester’s Oliver (7 3s, 27 points) would see the quarter ended with the Fishermen out front 24-17.

Belmont came out of the gate fast as senior captain Danny Yardemian (18 points) slicing to the basket for two which set the stage for Annus to drop the anvil on a slowing Gloucester as the three-year varsity player drained three consecutive treys – each in front of a boisterous Gloucester student section – from beyond the arc to give Belmont the lead at 29-28.

A steal and bucket from Yardemian was countered by a two from Oliver (who ended the night and his high school career reportedly with 996 career points) to tie the contest at 31 but Annus’ fourth three of the quarter at 2:48 gave the Marauders the lead, 34-31, they would keep for the remainder of the contest, as they went into the half leading 40-31. It was a quarter where Belmont’s half-court defense and stellar play on the wings limited Gloucester to 7 points in eight minutes.

See Annus interviewed at courtside after the game here: https://www.pscp.tv/belmontonian/1BdGYOnyWjgxX 

The third quarter saw Belmont’s defense make life difficult for Gloucester’s once unstoppable offense, upping the lead to 13, 48-33, before ending the third leading 56-43. 

With the game down to its final eight minutes, Gloucester attempted a final comeback cutting the lead to 10, 56-46, through a hoop and one from senior Kenneth Turner only to see Annus tie the school’s 3s record a minute and 10 seconds into the fourth to increase the lead to 13. Shortly afterward, the junior would put an exclamation point on his night with three more from long distances (Annus was 12 of 14 from beyond 19’9″) to seal the victory, secure the record and have the large Belmont student section chant “MVP!”

Calling Annus “the best shooter I’ve ever coached” in 19 years at Belmont’s helm, Pritchard credited the unselfish work by his teammates for both locating Annus in space and setting picks to free him for his shots. 

Belmont returns to the Divison 2 North finals for the first time in a decade – the nine-seeded Marauders were defeated by Woburn, 48-45 in 2009 – as they take on defending North champions, North Andover, on Saturday at the Tsongas Center in Lowell.

Yardemian Secures Career Scoring Crown Leading Marauders Over Arlington

Belmont’s senior captain Danny Yardemian had just broken the career points record of Steven Kearns on Friday, March 1 which would usually cause the game to be halted for the new titlist to receive the game ball and lots of cheers.

But Yardemian was too busy at that moment; other than a quick arms pump, the Marauders’ leader played on as he was in the midst of turning the Division 2 North Sectional playoff game vs. Middlesex League rivals Arlington on its head. Having trailed by as many as 13 in the first half and behind by five, 46-41, late in the third, Yardemian (30 points) was in the midst of scoring six consecutive baskets in the matter of 2 minutes and 16 seconds including a floater at the buzzer to give Belmont a three-point advantage, 53-50, entering the fourth quarter at an overflowing Coach Lyons’ Court in Belmont.

Wow.

And with the help of a killer three-pointer from sophomore Tim Minicozzi to give Belmont a 58-53 lead, a critical block by senior center and co-captain Jake Herlihy with Belmont hanging onto a 59-56 advantage and a quartet of free throws – including two via a technical – by junior Mac Annus (21 points), the Marauders were able to power by the SpyPonders in an instant classic, 71-67, to advance to the semifinals vs. Gloucester. 

“It was a really hard fought game against a team that is really well coached,” said Yardemian after the battle on the court. “People were saying that they were the eight seed … they came to play and it was a great game.”

Not that it was a perfect game for the captain against the SpyPonders as the teams met for the third time this season. Yardemian – who coincidently broke the 1,000 point mark against Arlington earlier in the year – went a Chamberlain-esque 9 for 18 from the charity stripe.

“I was leaving them short [early] then it was mental,” he said.

As for his second record-breaking scoring performance this season – the senior guard now holds the single-game mark with 46 points against Lexington in December – Yardemian said the achievement is “really humbling” as his name now joins the other 1,000 point Marauders on the Field House wall. 

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