After Garden Party, Belmont Girls’ Hoops Sprint For Tourney Spot

Photo: Belmont Girls at the garden.

After a once-in-a-lifetime trip to play on the parquet of TD Boston Garden early Saturday morning, the Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team gets back to the grind of securing a spot defeating arch-rival Watertown, 54-34, on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

With eight wins, the team needs to secure two wins in its final five games of the regular season and could reach that mark in the next week as they’ll be matched up against a team they have previously defeated and one of the streakiest squads in the Middlesex League.

Belmont’s Nina Minicozzi (14) vs Watertown.

The Marauders will take on Reading (6-7) on Friday, Jan. 31 – Belmont defeated the Rockets by 10 earlier in the season before they head off to Wakefield (6-8) which has beaten some of the best teams in the league before losing to some of the weakest squads.

Belmont broke a two game losing streak defeating Winchester, 61-49, on Friday night, Jan. 24 then finding themselves with a 9:30 a.m. tip-off against last year’s Division 2 South champions Pembroke.

The game – which was an MIAA endowment game – will not count against the teams record when it come to seeding or making the tournament. It was a chance for both teams to spend out their bench players who played the entire second quarter. In the end, the Patriots took home a 56-40 victory which was closer then the score indicated.

After starting off the season with a 6-2 record, Belmont played a string of games in which teams began focusing their defenses around stopping Belmont leading and most consistent scorer, sophomore guard Nina Minicozzi.

With junior center Emma McDevitt out of the lineup due to a twisted ankle and the team missing three starters from last year’s North finals squad – two graduating and playing for 19-0 Bowdoin and another recruited away – Minicozzi finds herself facing a double team or physical man-to-man situation resulting on the second year starter prone on the court.

Belmont was back home Tuesday at the Coach Lyons’ Court against the Raiders in a game which took a quarter just to get started. By the end of the first quarter, both teams struggled to score less than one point per minute with the Raiders leading, 7-6.

Watertown, behind sophomore forward Taylor Lambo’s low post shooting, upped its advantage to 14-10 midway through the second quarter before Belmont found an unexpected source for its scoring woes as first year Sophie McDevitt. The forward scored 10 of her career high 14 points taking passes from diving guards for uncontested layups while knocking down a three when given the time and space. Behind McDevitt, Belmont ended the half on a 13-0 run to lead by nine, 23-14, at intermission.

The game was notable as Belmont played an aggressive press defense, constantly doubling the ball and coming up with a slew of turnovers that allowed Belmont to pad its advantage to 37-20 entering the final eight minutes.

With a bit more space on the floor, Minicozzi was able to drive to the basket and also hit a three in the final quarter to finish with a game high 18 points.

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