Photo: Belmont’s Jess Giorgio in the paint.
After starting their seasons with four relatively easy wins and each finding a place in the top 10 of the Boston Globe’s Top 20 Poll, Belmont’s Boys (ranked 10th) and Girls (number 9) Basketball teams will be finding a tougher crowd during the holiday recess as both heads off to meet some stiffer non-conference competition this week.
After entering the recess with wins against visiting Winchester in the Friday doubleheader matches, the Marauders have Thursday, Dec. 27 dates against small-school powerhouse and regaining Division 4 state champs Pope John (the boys) in Boston and Stoughton (the girls) at Newton North. On Friday, Belmont will play 19th ranked Burke High School of Boston.
Belmont’s start to the season has been a time to put together best performances – senior guard Danny Yardemian’s 46 point single-game points record and senior center Jessica Giorgio personal high of 24 points – and prepare for a series of games against top-notch Middlesex League rivals, starting away at Reading next Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Both teams are showing an offensive punch – the Boys are averaging 85 points during the stretch while the Girls are just over the 63 point mark – while the Girls are stellar on the defensive end keeping opponents to just about 30 points.
The Boys and Girls finished their respective early season run with comfortable wins over the Sachems. The Girls allowed only a single point in the first quarter while putting up 23, then put the game away in the second quarter as the Marauders took a 36-7 lead into the half. Head Coach Melissa Hart played everyone who suited up, allowing several reserves a chance to run the floor. Sophomore Maiya Bergdorf led Belmont in scoring with 17, followed by senior Meghan Tan with 13 and freshman guard Bridgette Martin who hit double digits with 10, as Belmont cruised to a 73-23 victory.
“It’s still a work in progress,” said Hart, who said she expects Stoughton, who played Belmont tough last year, will give the regular season challenge they have been looking for.
Yardemian found that he’s made a lot more friends on the court after breaking the long-standing points against Lexington as Winchester would drape two or three defenders on the league all-star when he would head for the basket. Winchester kept it close in the first, leading 12-9 with two and half minutes remaining in the opening quarter, before the Marauders behind Yardemian, senior center Daniel Seraderian, and sixth man sophomore forward Preston Jackson-Stephens (who had his second impressive outing) took the Marauders offensively and defensively on a 10-2 run to take the lead, 19-14, at the end of the first eight minutes.
Belmont exploded for 23 points in the second quarter led by Seraderian with a three, a hoop and two from the charity stripe and reserve sophomore guard Tim Minicozzi who contributed six to see Belmont up the advantage to 42-27 at the half. The third prove decisive, as early on Yardemian hit a three and put in a driving layup, stole the ball that sent sophomore guard Mac Annus his own layup, the first two of nine points in the quarter. He joined senior shooting guard Ben Sseruwagi with 7 points to lead the Marauders to a 66-39 point lead at the end of the third and a comfortable 83-56 win.
Asked why he tends to schedule tough as nail opponents each school break, 19 years Head Coach Adam Pritchard said he remembers what UMass (and current Kentucky) head coach John Calipari – whom he was an assistant – saying that you should play “anyone, anywhere, anytime” especially the best teams.
“You only go around once so why not make it interesting,” said Pritchard.