Photo: Belmont High co-captain Samari Winklaar.
In the last game of 2015, Belmont High senior co-captain Samari Winklaar went off like a New Year’s firework, scoring 15 points in the first half (half of the team’s total) on her way to a career-high 19 points as she spurred on her teammates to a 48-31 victory over hosts Arlington High School Spy on Wednesday, Dec. 23.
“I was waiting for my teammates to pass me the ball and taking them down early,” said the two-year starter.
The win ups the Marauders’ record to 4-0 has they head off into the winter recess. Waiting for them on the other side of the holidays will be a clash with undefeated and two-time Middlesex League Liberty Division Woburn High School.
“It will be a battle,” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart. “After a long layoff; that’s not great to face a great team. The main thing is to make sure that we’re tough mentally on offense because they’ll be tough on us defensively.”
Hart and her traveling army – she is currently carrying 18 players on the bench – came into Arlington High’s gym riding a three-game winning streak facing a team who lost its best player, Grace Carter, to a knee injury.
Belmont came out employing a swarming defense reminiscent of last year’s defense that made it difficult for Arlington to set up their offense.
Belmont jumped to a 9-3 lead on a drive by sophomore point guard Carly Chrisofori (9 points), two baskets (a runner and jumper off an offensive rebound) by Winklaar and a three point bomb by sophomore Jenny Call (6 points) before Winklaar ended the quarter wih a pair of buckets to see the lead streached to 13-3.
Winklaar took command of the offense in the second quarter, scoring on drives to the hoop and from jumpers, including a three in the second when she scored nine of the team’s 17 points, putting the game out of reach at half time at 30-10.
The second half saw Hart go down the bench, bringing in freshman Megan Tan (4 points) to defend the Arlington point guards and fellow frosh Jess Giorgio who, at 6’1″, did an effective job forcing the SpyPonders to alter their shot selection while chipping in with a basket from in close.
Sophomore Alexa Sabatino took over for Christofori and handled quarterbacking the squad while knocking down 3 points.
“We have a lot of girls who can really run and attack the defense,” said Hart.
“It’s a real strength that we have the kind of depth we do. If someone is having trouble shooting or in foul trouble, we have someone at every position. We have an answer to something, and that is really helpful,” she said.