Photo: Kiki being Kiki: Belmont’s Christofori playing her game.
Belmont High Girls’ Basketball secured a vital pair of home victories putting them a game away from securing a return trip to the Division 2 North sectional playoffs.
But the wins over arch rival Watertown and always tough Reading were throughly grind-them-out affairs in which the Marauders found a fourth quarter savior who secured the victories.
Against the Raiders on Tuesday, Jan. 28, sophomore Nina Minicozzi came off a four point first half to score 14 in the second – nine of those in the fourth – to give the Marauders the needed offensive punch to pull away from their cross border challengers, 54-34.
After falling behind 7-6 after the first quarter, Belmont’s Sophie McDevitt put the team on her shoulders as the first year became a target down low for her team mates cutting in the lane, scoring three hoops from in close. And given the chance, the sister of Belmont’s starting center Emma McDevitt buried a three as she hit for 10 of her career high 14 in the second quarter to give the Marauders a 23-14 lead at the half.
Belmont welcomed Reading to the Wenner Field House for a Friday night tussle that saw a pair of big quarters for both teams. After a close first quarter (15-11 Belmont), the Marauders pulled ahead 23-16 with three minutes remaining. That’s when the Rockets took off going on a 10-1 run behind sophomore guard Jackie Malley who knocked down six-for-six from the charity stripe to go along with a 3-pointer to give Reading the half time lead, 26-24.
The third quarter resembled an alley brawl as both team’s defenses were physical and uncompromising to anyone attempting a shot within 10 feet of the basket. Two free throws from junior Kiki Christofori (tied with Malley for game high 15 points) with 35 seconds remaining closed the gap to one, 36-35, only for Reading to hit a three and a follow up with zilch on the clock to give them their biggest lead of the game, 41-35, entering the final eight minutes.
The fourth was Belmont’s as its pressure defense shut down the Rockets. Reese Shapazian’s NBA-distance 3 with six minutes remaining gave Belmont the lead, 42-41, and her second trey – a buzzer beater from a wild rebound from Minicozzi upped the lead to six, 48-42, with four-and-a-half left on the clock.
It was a wild last minute as Belmont saw its 51-44 lead to a single possession, 54-51 with 10 seconds remaining when sophomore Sarah Dullaghan (five points including a behind the head layup and a three pointer) the smallest Marauder, blocked a desperation three to effectively end the game.
Belmont will take on streaky Wakefield (7-9 but with victories over Burlington, Wilmington and Arlington) as they begin the final two weeks of league play.