Photo: Another day, another reporter – Boston Globe correspondent Tyler Blint-Welsh – wanting to talk to Belmont High senior captain Carly Christofori and freshman Maiya Bergdorf.
It was another victory for the Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team on Tuesday, Jan. 9, against an overpowered Winchester squad.
And for the second consecutive game, a reporter from one of Boston’s daily newspapers was lurking after the game, wanting to speak to members of the “hot” new team on the scene.
Tuesday it was Boston Globe correspondent Tyler Blint-Welsh who asked to talk to senior captain Carly Christofori and leading scorer freshman Maiya Bergdorf, two of the standouts in the 69-21 victory over the Sachems. Last week, it was Boston Herald who came with a photographer and reporter, picking out players and coaches to speak.
For Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart, the attention her team is receiving – and especially the recognition of the hard work put in by the upperclassmen – is well earned, having stepped up in the team’s first year playing in the top-level Division 1. At 6-1 (its lone loss to D1 powerhouse Newton South and its superstar Veronica Burton), the Marauders find themselves in the Top 10 in both daily papers girls’ basketball polls.
“I’m really proud that they are getting this attention,” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart after the game.
“This is such a wonderful group; they put the time in the offseason and during the season. They have focused whether it’s in the games or at practices.”
There indeed wasn’t this much attention towards the team since … well, probably ever. Despite an excellent run last season with one of the best shut down defenses in the state, the team earned a few throwaway articles even after going 16-4 and won the number one seed in the North Division 2 playoffs.
“It took us a while to be looked at, and when we did get the articles, we lost to Arlington Catholic [in the semifinals of the Division 2 North sectionals],” said Hart after Tuesday game.
But with the newfound press coverage comes the expected blowback; teams and coaches now know who you are and will be itching to take down the upstart.
“It’s nice to have the underdog mentality and not have a target on your back. But this is the way it goes when you have a string of successful seasons,” said Hart.
Hart said while the team has earned respect with all the hard work over the years, “now everyone’s looking for you, trying to topple one of the top 10 teams. No one is coming into a game with us and thinking that they are not up for the game,” she said.
“It is what it is, I can’t make them longshots. I can only tell the kids that we have to always work for everything and fight for everything because now people are gunning for us. And that will make having a successful season tougher to achieve,” Hart pointed out.
“We have a lot of good teams in the league: we were lucky to get out of our game with Woburn with a win, Lexington and Reading will be hard to break down, Melrose and Wakefield are strong and even Arlington on the nights they are on will be difficult to beat,” said Hart.
Still, Hart likes the challenge before her as the team will soon reach the midpoint of the season.
“I don’t underestimate what we can do in the league. We are a tough team for our opponents because they can’t focus on one player. We don’t pound it to our center every time we come down the court or try to isolate one shooter. We have so many good players; if we are egalitarian in our play, we will be successful.”
“We have our work cut out for us to live up to our reputation,” she said.
Not that Hart sees her team failing to meet the team’s goals.
“They’re kind as a group and great teammates, and that’s why their chemistry is so good. And now the whole program is built on their unselfishness and hard work.”