Belmont Hoops: Stratford’s First Game In Charge A Success; Girls’ A Work In Progress

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Boys’ “New” Coach’s account opens With A Victory

When head coach Adam Pritchard was installed as the school’s acting Athletic Director, the Belmont High Boys’ Basketball team found themselves looking for just its third head coach in several decades.

But the school didn’t have to look far for Pritchard’s replacement as long-time tenured JV coach Tim Stratford has taken over running the program. And while a rookie leader in name only, Stafford was as excited as any first-time coach as Belmont got the season underway with a scrappy 64-59 opening victory against Middlesex League Liberty Division foe Winchester.

”Excellent start. They showed a great deal tonight,” said a smiling Stratford after the victory as the Marauders ended the calendar year with four victories in the first six games as it now begins a stretch against very difficult League opponents.

Relying on a combination of strong defense led by senior center Kevin Logan and launching lots of threes, Belmont demonstrated a balanced scoring attack led by senior Tyler Arno with 16 points, followed by sophomore Donovan Holway contributing 13 as senior Thomas Ryder, junior Collin Galloway and senior Nick Giangregorio scored 10 a piece.

It looked as if Belmont was going to run away from Winchester from the start stretching an early lead 19-6 at the end of the first 12 minutes. But Winchester would quietly rally with a 11-2 run and just before the half the once safe lead was down to two, 27-25, as Belmont’s three-point prowess fizzed out.

“We got out to a slow start in the second and it’s just some things that it’s early in the season so I’m not surprised they’re making some mistakes,” Stratford said.

Winchester would take a brief one point lead early in the third, Belmont would climb back on top with their favorite threes from Arno, Ryder and Giangregorio to lead 44-37 entering the fourth quarter. And while built the margin to 11 with 87 seconds remaining in the game. Winchester’s long distance shots found the range and the lead dwindled down to two possessions – 63-59 – with 25 seconds to play, but the Marauders hung on for the W.

“I liked all what I saw tonight because they played within themselves and within the game,” he said “But they sure scared the heck out of me at the end,” said Stratford.

At 4-2, the season has seen good wins against out-of-league opponent Dracut – which defeated Brockton and Chelmsford – and Liberty division foe Arlington. The team enters the new year to begin the bulk of its season against Middlesex league opponents starting at Melrose on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at 7:30 p.m.

Girls’ Hoops Finding Out What Will Work

When you enter a season with a young and mostly untested team, it will take some time before the coach knows just what combination of players will give them the best results. And it appears Belmont High Girls’ Basketball Head Coach Melissa Hart will be performing that task for the foreseeable future.

In the season opener against Winchester at the Wenner Field House, Hart made several wholesale changes – at times entering four subs. But just who that group will be was not discovered that night as it was a rough start for the Marauders coming on the wrong side of a 50-32 loss.

“This team is certain a work in progress,” said Hart, who will miss three past varsity starters – including a league all-star – who transferred to private schools.

That lack of experience showed itself against Middlesex League Liberty opponent Winchester. Headed by the familiar figure of Belmont’s assistant volleyball coach, Sam Mosley, Winchester begins the season with its strongest team in memory with a trio of tall talented starters led by sophomore forward Emily Collins who score 12 points in the second quarter finishing with a game high 22 points.

Belmont is currently relying on senior guard Sara Dullaghan, the only starter with varsity experience going back to the playoff team of 2019-20. The starting guard’s quickness on defense and ability to get into the open court to slash to the basket saw her score 9 of Belmont’s 14 first half points and 7 of its 9 in the fourth to end the game with 15 points. Junior Sophie McDevitt finished with 6 points as Paula Dullaghan came through with 4 points.

Newcomers to watch this season includes freshmen forward Cortney Howell (three blocks and a raw force under the basket) 9th grade point guard Linda Sheng and sophomore Mia Ferrari.

After its annual trip to the Garden City Classic at Newton South High School over the holiday break, Belmont stands at at 2-4 overall, and 2-2 in the Middlesex League as it prepares for a month of Middlesex League opponents beginning with Melrose at the Wenner Field House on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

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