Third Soccer Night In Belmont Set for Harris Field, Saturday, Sept 29

Photo: The procession to the field

The Belmont High School Boys and Girls Varsity soccer teams will headline the third annual Soccer Night in Belmont on Saturday, September 29, joined at the event by hundreds of younger players from Belmont 2nd Soccer and the Belmont Soccer Association, their coaches, and other members of the Belmont soccer community.

Soccer Night in Belmont will feature a doubleheader under the lights at Harris Field against Middlesex League rivals Arlington: a Boys’ game at 4:30 p.m. followed by a Girls’ game at 6:30 p.m. 

Belmont youth soccer players will participate by parading out with players during the pre-game ceremonies, acting as ball-boys and ball-girls, and competing in mini-games on Harris Field during halftime of both games. Arlington Soccer Club youth soccer players will also participate in the pre-game ceremonies and other activities.

“This event showcases our varsity teams and recognizes the role of Belmont 2nd Soccer and BSA in nurturing the talent that makes up these teams year in and year out,” said event organizer John Carson. 

“We hope to exceed last year’s crowd of more than 1,500, and it will be a really fun night that builds bonds between our ‘little kid’ players and ‘big kid’ high school players, virtually all of whom came up through the Belmont youth program.  In fact, one great highlight is always that our high school players wear wristbands during the game that match the color of their Belmont 2nd Soccer team,” said Carson.

Admission to Soccer Night in Belmont is free. Concessions including pizza, hot dogs, snacks and drinks will be available for purchase, provided by Parents of Music Students (POMS) so families can come for the games and feed the kids at the same time.

Soccer Night in Belmont is sponsored by Belmont 2nd Soccer, Belmont Soccer Association, Belmont Savings Bank, The Rising, Phoenix Landing, with special thanks to Friends of Belmont Soccer (FOBS) and Belmont Athletic Director Jim Davis.

One Run Playoff: Belmont High Baseball Bows Out To Arlington In First Round

Photo: Senior Steve Rizzuto crossing the plate after hitting a home run in the bottom of the 10th against Arlington.

The playoffs ended way too soon for Belmont High baseball.

A pair of errors on fly balls in the outfield proved the difference as Belmont walked off Brendan Grant Field as 12-ranked and Middlesex League rival Arlington (12-9) celebrating a 5-4 upset victory over the fifth-seed Marauders (15-6) in the first round of the Division 2 North sectional playoffs on Thursday, June 7.

“It’s a tough one,” said Head Coach Jim Brown after the game. “We were winning those lately.” 

The senior-heavy team nearly made off with another last inning victory, scoring three runs with two outs in the bottom of the 7th off Arlington reliever Jay Masci on four consecutive singles by seniors Dennis Crowley, Ryan Noone, Connor Dacey and Steve Rizzuto to tie the score at three. 

“That’s what is great about this senior class and these kids. They don’t panic and fight to the very end, to the last out. They never quit,” Brown. 

After allowing two runs to score on a two-out dropped fly ball in the top of the 10th off hard-luck loser Martin Marintchev who relieved senior starter Nate Espelin, Belmont quickly reduced the lead to one with a home run by the game’s hitting star Rizzuto, who went 4 for 4 with a double and the dinger, scored a run and drove in a pair. 

But with a man on second, a line drive to the Arlington shortstop started a 6-3 double play and an easy fly to right field ended the season which saw Belmont win consecutive Middlesex League championships, the first time since 1961 Belmont captured the league two seasons running. 

The one-run defeat was apropos for the team; in 21 games the Marauders played this season, 10 were decided by a single run.

“I love playing with this team. It was awesome,” said Espelin, Belmont’s ace southpaw who struck out 17 SpyPonders over nine innings while giving up two earned runs on five hits. “It was frustrating how it ended. It’s memorable the character that they all showed, how we stayed together no matter what.”

On Espelin’s first pitch of the game, leadoff hitter Brendan Jones sent the ball to deep center where the Marauder center fielder stumbles, recovers but then stumbles a second time to see the ball fall beyond his glove. Jones scored on Dara Conneely’s double.  

In the hole by a run after half an inning, the Marauders’ had its chances against Arlington starter Adam Bowler including leaving the bases loaded in the 2nd and 4th innings and stranding 12 men on base, 8 in scoring position. 

The SpyPonders increased its lead scoring twice in the top of the 4th with two singles and a double off Espelin.

It didn’t appear Belmont had anything in the tank offensively until the 7th when the bench erupted with each clutch hit by the middle of the order. But the team could not muster the one extra run to take the game.

Brown said despite the early exit, “it was definitely a good season. Obviously, these seniors, many who were three-year starters, wanted to go further in the playoffs. But I’m proud of them,” he said. 


WOW! Belmont Stun #1 Arlington, 3-2, In Div. 1 North Quarters As Dacey Stands Tall

Photo: The final scrum as Belmont’s Kevin Dacey saves with 9.1 seconds remaining to secure the 3-2 win over Arlington.

Belmont High Boys’ Hockey head coach Fred Allard looked bewildered, nearly speechless coming out of the locker room after addressing his team after Belmont stunned number 1-seed Arlington, 3-2, before a raucous Belmont’s traveling supporters in a standing-room-only O’Brien Rink in Woburn on Saturday, March 3.

“We call it our ‘Redemption Tour’ this year as we play teams we lost to a lot,” he said. “We have seniors who lost 9-0, 8-0 to Arlington early in their careers. To come back and win, amazing. I’m happy to be the coach of Belmont and just proud to coach this team.” 

Saturday’s game was 43 minutes of grind it out hockey and two minutes of a wild roller coaster of emotions as Belmont seemingly blew its best chance against the state favorites by giving up a tying goal with at 1:53 left only to be rescued by “Mr. March” sophomore Justin Roche’s wraparound at 23.5 seconds. The Marauders seemingly lost the lead for the second time with less than 10 seconds remaining but for a miraculous save by game MVP senior goalie Kevin Dacey and a correct call by the refs.

When the final horn blared, the team skated to where the Belmont supporters were located and despite three inches of tempered hockey panels, celebrated with fans, friends, and family.

For Dacey, the game was four years in the making.

“This was definitely a personal game for me. As a freshman I was pulled in my very first game against Arlington so ever since then I’ve wanted to get them back and I’m just so happy it happened.” 

Belmont lost away to Arlington, 4-1, in January that included a major dust-up that saw Dacey and Belmont’s leading scorer Steve Rizzuto bounced from the game. There was an equally nasty affair in Belmont in February that saw the Marauders on the wrong end of a 2-0 loss that included an empty-netter. 

“We lost twice but they were really a bouncing puck either way that could have changed it. We knew we could play with them,” said Dacey.

“He’s been the backbone of our team since his sophomore year. He’s kept us in most games and certainly kept us in this one. He’s one of the top goalies in the state and he’s got a heart of steel,” said Allard of his goaltender.

Belmont came out skating against Arlington and its aggressive play paid off twice as the Marauders took advantage of a pair of SpyPonder miscues. Belmont took a 1-0 lead in the first period when an errant pass during an Arlington line change was picked up by senior forward Ryan Noone leading to senior captain Dennis Crowley beating the SpyPonder’s goalie Jack Pinard five-hole with 3:59 left in the period.

Belmont’s doubled its lead in the second period courtesy of a bad defensive decision seconds after the puck dropped when outstanding freshman forward Ben Fici scored his ninth of the season from out in front at 10 seconds, assist from senior Alec Morin and that man Rocha.

For the remainder of the game, the storyline was if Belmont could hold on against the defending Super 8 champs with its high-powered offense. For most of the second period, Belmont’s defense kept Arlington to long-range shots that Dacey smothered with general ease.

In the third period, Arlington used its speed and strength to creep back into the match. It capitalized on a Belmont penalty, scoring early in the period (with 13:27 remaining) by junior defense Dara Conneely. Belmont stalling offense and Arlington’s ability to stay in the Marauders’ zone and continually squeeze the Belmont’s defense into Dacey silence the normally boisterous supporters. 

The seeming inevitable came as Arlington threw four players into the slot and senior wing Mike Callahan jumped on a loose puck seven feet from the goal and powered it between Dacey’s pads to tie it at 2 with 1:53 left in the period.

With overtime looming and Arlington controlling the game, it appeared Belmont was running on borrowed time against the energized SpyPonders.

But for Allard, the mood on the bench was resilient as the team recalled its first playoff game a few day back coming back from behind four times to defeat Melrose in the final minute. “These boys have responded every step of the way and I knew when [Arlington scored] we’d grind it out and find a way to win.”

Enter Rocha. On the second of two faceoffs in Arlington’s end, the sophomore took a Noone pass to the net and completed a classic wraparound by Pinard’s outstretched pads.

“I don’t even know what happened. I just got the puck down low in the slot and put it right around the goalie,” said Rocha who scored consecutive playoff winning goals. “It was all about wearing down the defense by keeping the puck down low. We just wore them down.” 

“We talk about ‘dirty’ goals, simply get it to the net and put home the rebound. Four of our five goals against Melrose was just that. And Rocha’s was just that way,” said Allard.

But Arlington provided one last heart-stopping moment when a near-perfect pass from the right circle met a pair of SpyPonders at the left corner of the net with 9.1 seconds remaining. But Dacey dove across the mouth of the goal to barely keep the puck from crossing the line. 

“It was just desperation. I just threw my stick out there and I just pulled it off the goal line,” said Dacey. As Arlington attempted to continue the play, the referee behind the net apparently blew the play dead to the bafflement of Arlington’s players who let their emotion get the best of them.

While pointing to Belmont’s playoff loss to St. John’s Prep in last year’s tourney as the “tipping point” in the resurgence of the program, Allard said the Arlington game is equally as important to the future of the sport.

“All you have to do is look at all the Belmont people who came out today and you realize that hockey in Belmont unlike a lot of things has returned. There is a history and a camaraderie and a level of success we haven’t had in a number of years so this is special. This will mean a lot for years to come,” said Allard. 

Sports: Girls’ Hoops Readies For Long Road Trip With Win Over SpyPonders

Photo: Meghan Tan (with ball) driving to the basket against Arlington as Jane Mahon looks on. (Credit: Pete Giorgio)

In its last home game before an extended stretch away from the Wenner Field House against some of the most competitive teams it’ll face before the playoffs, Belmont High Girls’ Basketball took care of an undermanned but scrappy Arlington High SpyPonders squad, 73-55, on Friday night, Jan. 19. 

Led by junior center Jess Giorgio whose 13 points was her second game in double digit, Belmont spread the scoring around as seven of the eight player who tallied scored eight or more points in the game.

“What’s great about their unselfish play is that we don’t always go to the same girl to score. Everyone contributes which makes it hard of  the other teams to focus on just a few players,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Melissa Hart, whose team is currently 8-1 and 7-0 against Middlesex League opposition. 

Belmont took the lead early through senior co-captain Greta Propp who hit her first three shots to give the Marauders a 6-3 lead and when senior co-captain Jenny Call launched a three, the lead was four, 10-6, midway through the first. The Marauders steadily upped the lead to 28-16 with 3:30 remaining in the second on a Jane Mahon bucket off the give and go from Giorgio. The Marauders finished the quarter with threes from Meghan Tan and Call to end the half leading the SpyPonders, 39-23.

Arlington did claw back through game scoring leader freshman guard Eva Connolly who led all scorers with 19 points (going 8-8 from the free-throw line), and senior guard Ellie Demaree who tallied 18 points. Arlington did reduce the lead to 11, 54-43, just before the end of the third quarter.

But Belmont’s height advantage and good shot selection saw the lead near 20 with eight minutes left in the game.

Senior captains Carly Christofori and Jenny Call each scored 11 points – with Call adding three more three-pointers to her already team career record scoring from beyond the arc. Junior guard Meghan Tan and the Marauders’ third captain Greta Propp threw in nine points while bench players junior Jane Mahon and frosh Maiya Bergdorf knocked in eight apiece. 

Belmont’s stretch of success – recognized with top 10 rankings in both Boston daily newspapers polls – will be tested beginning this week as the team plays four of its next five games on the road against tough league competition.

First up will be 6-2 Melrose on Tuesday, Jan 23 before Belmont makes a brief stop home on Friday, Jan. 26 against a rebuilding Watertown club before playing three games in five days; a Sunday afternoon matinee, Jan. 28, against Lexington then up against the currently undefeated Wakefield (9-0) squad on Tuesday, Jan. 30 then a visit on Friday, Feb. 2 to Woburn (8-1) which took the Marauders to the brink at the Wenner before the team pulled it out late. 

Sports: Girls’ Basketball Playoff Bound After Dunking SpyPonders, 42-26

Photo: Sophomore Jane Mahon heading to the basket at Arlington. (Credit: Pete Giorgio) 

Unlike last season, Belmont High Girls’ Basketball did not wait ’til the last minute to punch their ticket to the playoffs. This year, they got there early, securing its tenth win in only 12 games as the Marauders had to survive what Head Coach Melissa Hart dubbed “a grim first half” to defeat hosts Arlington High, 42-26, on Friday, Feb. 3.

“We’re in the tournament which is great,” said Hart.

Leading the Marauders was sophomore forward Jane Mahon who had a career night with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks.

“Usually I rush my shot but tonight I just took it a step slower, seeing where my defender was. If they were playing off me I was shooting jump shots but if they were on me I was driving the baseline,” said Mahon.

The first half was a rugged affair, with its share of missed shots and fouls as sophomore center Jess Giorgio (4 points) was in foul trouble early. Arlington, which won its first game of the season this week, led after the first, 7-6, and kept it close at the half. Belmont soon took the lead off of three Mahon hoops, which accounted for half of Belmont’s baskets. 

Up 19-15 at the half, the third quarter sealed the game for Belmont as the Marauders’ defense checked the SpyPonders, allowing two free throws, while Mahon took care of the offense with a pair of baskets and a free throw to push the lead to 30-17. Junior forward Jenny Call finished with 10 points including a pair of 3s in the fourth quarter.

Hart said the team is going into the Division 2 North sectionals “fairly well-rounded group in its scoring.”

“One of the most dangerous things is that we’ve had six different high scorers in the past six games,” she said. 

“I think we’ll be tough to guard, it’s hard to focus on one person to try and stop us.”

Sports: Belmont Boys’ Hoops Left Out In The Rain By SpyPonders

Photo: Sophomore guard Daniel Yardemian vs. Arlington.

Why when the Belmont High School Boys’ Basketball team crosses Route 2 to visit its neighbors Arlington High, it’s always raining? Tuesday’s game, Jan. 3, marked the fourth time in five years that the Marauders have been met with a downpour entering the Arlington High gym.

And for the third time in four years, the outcome of the match was a dreary as the weather.

Playing catch-up throughout the game that saw Arlington make the last shot in the first three-quarters – including a 3-point prayer by junior Adrian Black at the end of the critical third quarter – the Marauders could not put together a consistent offense against the SpyPonders, falling 64-57.

It was not the game Belmont (4-3, 2-2 in the Middlesex League) was expecting to play after defeating a top-ranked Division 1 New Bedford team during the holiday break. Arlington remains undefeated at 5-0. 

Belmont’s only lead came with the game’s opening basket from game-high scorer senior captain Paul Ramsey (25 points) before two consecutive three-point bombs from Nick Karalis (8 points) and all-star senior Colin McNamara (with an all-around great game with 22 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds) had Belmont Head Coach Adam Pritchard calling a timeout just a minute into the match.

While Ramsay kept Belmont in the game, the team just wasn’t clicking on any of their shots, ending the first quarter with an anemic 5 points and down by 10.

The second eight minutes saw a more familiar Marauder team – up tempo sparked by senior forward Cal Christofori (8 points, all in the second quarter) who used his athleticism to start the comeback.

Sophomore guard Daniel Yardemian (2 points) was quite effective driving to the basket then dishing the ball to Ramsey and Christofori. A Christofori putback of a Yardemian miss ended a 12-2 run to tie the score at 17 with 4:30 to play.

But the Marauder momentum was short-circuited by consecutive traveling calls, one not called on the SpyPonders and the other a phantom infraction on Belmont. The subsequent 3 by Karalis and a jumper by Dominic Black upped the lead to seven at 26-19.

For the second time in the quarter, Belmont race back behind a 360 spinning layup by Christofori, Yardemain’s drive in the lane and a Ben Jones 3 pointer to tie it up at 27 with Belmont in possession with 20 seconds left in the quarter. But an unforced error on the inbounds gave the ball right back to the hosts which McNamara scored as the buzzer went off.

After tying the game for the third (and final time) at 29, it was Arlington which forced the issue. While Belmont missed several chances in close, the SpyPonder went inside to sophomore big man James Gascoigne (8 of his 14 points in the third) and outside to the Black brothers (juniors Dominic and Adrian) who scored a couple of long range 3s as Arlington raced to a double-digit advantage at 42-31 with 3:10 left.

Despite senior Bryan Goodwin (11 points with three 3s) hitting a three in transition and a hoop on the drive inside, Belmont could not mount a run they had in the second quarter. Down 9 with a second left, Dominic Black’s buzzer beater sent Arlington into the fourth up by a dozen.

Arlington kept up the pressure and extended the lead to 16 after two minutes and cruised to the victory.

Belmont will be on the road in Woburn on Friday.

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Football: Belmont Drains SpyPonders, 17-14, on Final Play Field Goal

Photo: It’s good as Aidan Cadogan (#3) is congratulated after hitting the winning points vs. Arlington.

After the final whistle blew, a person on the sidelines said, “Belmont doesn’t win games like this.”

It does now.

A 31-yard field goal by junior kicker Aidan Cadogan splitting the uprights on the final play of the game gave the Belmont High Marauders a thrilling 17-14 victory over Arlington High in a Middlesex League football matchup before a large, boisterous crowd at Belmont’s Harris Field under the Friday night lights, Sept. 23.

“I’m just so proud of our guys. They live what we preach; ‘Big Play, Next Play’, ‘Livin’ in the Reap.’ All credit is due to them. I just call the play, and they go out and execute it,” said Belmont third year head coach Yann Kumin.

“It’s a new era,” said Ben Jones, the team’s workhorse who smashed 200 rushing yards for the game.

“Coach Q started it, my brother [Max Jones] started it, everyone started it who was before us. We couldn’t have done this without them. This is a new Belmont,” he said.

Belmont is currently 2-1 and 1-1 in the Middlesex League with a two-game winning streak.

On the final drive of the game as the Marauders’ was driving down the field in the closing three minutes, kicker Cadogan said he was thinking “just get it in field goal position and the team did and I’m just excited to hit the field goal.”

As he was preparing for the kick, Arlington called a timeout in an attempt to “freeze” the junior. “Normally I don’t really get iced, that’s just me. When they tried it, I said, ‘I’m going to hit this!'”

For the second consecutive week, the night’s star was senior back Jones who carried the ball 40 times for 242 yards and running in both of Belmont’s touchdowns.

“I was able to do this is because of the [offensive] line. They’ve given me holes, given me places to run,” Jones the Belmontonian outside the White Field House after the game.

“We just kept pounding it down their throats and they couldn’t stop us,” Jones said, who has scored seven touchdowns and gained 576 yards in the past two games.

“It’s just keeping up with the Jones’. That’s all we’re trying to do,” said Kumin.

The game did not start out as planned as Arlington’s junior running back Alijah Woods took the ball on the game’s third play 54 yards down the sideline to Belmont’s 6.

But on the next four plays, Belmont’s defense stood firm – led by Adam Deese, Dennis Crowley and Ryan Noone – halting the SpyPonders on Belmont’s two-yard line.

For most of the night, the preferred option was only given Jones the ball and let him pick up four, five or six yards a carry. Mixing up the plays, QB Cal Christofori hit receiver Dylan Ferdinand down the middle for 32 yard to the Arlington 33. But as Belmont was preparing to score, they lost a fumble at the 8. But two plays later, they recovered an Arlington miscue leading to Jones scoring with 12 seconds remaining in the first quarter. 

Despite having the ball for most of the second quarter, Belmont could not convert. But Arlington did in spectacular fashion. After punting with 30 seconds left in the half, Arlington’s junior Jaden Dottin took a slant pass from sophomore QB Adam Bowler and simply outran the Belmont defensive back to score with 20 seconds left in the half to tie up the game at 7.

If Arlington was hoping its fast strike would shift the momentum, it simply wasn’t coming this time in Belmont. Getting the ball to start the second half, QB Cal Christofori handed the ball off to Jones who would pick up five to seven yards with each carry, ending when Jones went to his favorite right side and popped into the end zone to give Belmont a 14-7 lead.

“Arlington’s a tough team, but I think we are a little bit tougher. We have been preaching that all season. We want to be the hardest hitting team by far and they felt it and that’s why we went took the lead,” said Jones.

But Belmont enjoyed the lead for a mere 20 seconds when senior John Nascimento ran the kickoff – which was pushed back due to a knocking the kickoff out-of-bounds – down the right sideline 70 yards for the equalizing TD.

The remainder of the game until the final drive was each defense took charge. Belmont’s Tyler Reynolds knocked away a 40 yard pass from Bowler to Dottin that would have given Arlington the ball deep in Marauders territory with three minutes remaining. 

The last drive, with only 2:17 left in the game, saw a trio of big plays: a pitch to Jones who rounded the left side for 28 yards to the Arlington 37, a quarterback sneak by Christofori on fourth down to the SpyPonder’s 23 with 23 seconds left and dump pass from a scrambling Christofori to junior fullback Adam Deese who hugged the slideline going out on the 8 with only five ticks on the scoreboard.

“Adam just popped out of his protection and gave [Christofori] an outlet and that abled us to get down inside the 10 [yard line]. We got the best kicker in the Middlesex [League], and he proved that for us tonight,” said Kumin

After Cadogan hit the ball through the uprights – the kick would have been good from 40 plus yards – all that needed to be confirmed with the end of the game which came after half a minute of discussion from the refs. The whistle blew and the celebration commenced.  

“Ask me when it becomes real. It’s not real!” said an ecstatic Kumin, who high-stepped across the field after the traditional handshake a-la Michael Flatley.

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Sports: Belmont Girls’ Hoops Stumbles vs Arlington, Difficult Week Ahead

Photo: Sophomore guard Alexa Sabatino heading to the basket against Arlingon home.

There is no better example of a team with a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde persona than Belmont High’s Girls’ Basketball team.

When on their side of the midcourt line, the Marauders’ are a ball-hawking defense that makes it difficult for (most) teams to set a good shot off, holding strong teams such as Woburn, Chelmsford, and Watertown below their season point average.

But cross the line into the opponent’s end and the team’s aggressiveness evaporates and a tentative, almost timid offense emerges with the growing tendency of coming way without even attempting a shot at the hoop. With the rare exception, open shots are deferred, and the ball is passed to a player in the paint where a slew of opponents are waiting.

Beginning with a lackluster loss to an average Wakefield team when Belmont was 7-2, Belmont has fallen to a ranked Watertown squad by 12 points despite being tied with the Raiders with 2 minutes and 30 seconds left in the game, and on Friday night, Jan. 29 dropping a home game in overtime, 56-52, to Arlington, a team Belmont easily dispatched, 48-31, early in the season. 

Friday night’s loss wasted a career night from sophomore Alexa Sabatino (12 points) who scored came off the bench to spark the offense late in the game with two baskets (one off a beautiful putback of an offensive rebound) and 3 for 3 (8-8 in the game) from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to give Belmont a chance in the final minute of regular time. 

Arlington was able to stick around through the work of senior center Mallory DeFeo (12 of her 17 points in a dominating first half as well as a three in the fourth) and junior guard Rosalie Flinn who scored 16 of her game-high 18 points in the second half and overtime.

On the other hand, Belmont would commit three 30-second violations – turning the ball over for not taking a shot –  in the game while on four consecutive occasions in the third quarter, the team came away not having a shot at the basket, losing possession via turnovers or offensive fouls.  

Belmont nearly pulled off the victory when Sabatino hit two from the charity stripe with 1:39 remaining in the fourth quarter to bring Belmont within one point, 46-47. 

An outstanding defensive stance forced a traveling call against the SpyPonders with 50 seconds left on the clock gave the ball. The ball found freshman center Jess Giorgio (3 points) – playing significant minutes with senior forward Sarah Stewart forced to the bench – in the paint, and the 6-foot 9th grader posted up and drained a bucket with half a minute remaining, giving Belmont a one-point lead, 48-47. 

Giorgio nearly won the game single-handedly with a perfectly timed block on the other end of the court. Unfortunately, the subsequent action saw Belmont foul Arlington’s Margaret Ammondson, who sank one of two to tie the game. A layup attempt by Belmont’s all-star guard Carly Christofori (11 points) was blocked as time ran out.

Knotted up at 52 with less than a minute in OT, Arlington’s Grace Caulo (12 points) drained a pair of free throws to give the SpyPonders a two-point lead. Lexington intercepted a Belmont inbounds pass with 17 seconds remaining, leaving the Marauders to wonder what-if. 

Friday’s defeat leaves Belmont at 8-5 with games this week against undefeated and 6th-ranked Woburn away (a rematch which Belmont lost in the final second at home, 51-50) and home Friday against 12-4 Lexington.

The match will see the last visit to the Wenner by Minuteman senior Anna Kelly who two years ago dropped 52 points against the Marauders (the third highest point total by a high school girl in Massachusetts scholastic history) and score 27 points including four threes and double digits in assists in a 62-43 pummeling of Belmont earlier in the season. 

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Sports: Belmont Boy’s Hoops Tops League Table Defeating Ranked Arlington,

Photo: Justin Wagner scoring vs. Arlington.

A dominating third quarter by its three big men under the basket powered Belmont High School to the top of the Middlesex League Liberty Division after the Marauders defeated Arlington High School, 75-65, before a ruckus home crowd at the Wenner on Friday, Jan. 30.

Co-captain senior forward Justin Wagner scored 9 of his 14 points in the third as he and fellow forward Joe Shaughnessy (10 points with 6 in the final quarter) dictated play on both ends of the court, allowing Belmont to spring one-too-many fast breaks for the SpyPonders – ranked 9th in the latest Boston Globe basketball poll – to allow and stay with the Marauders as Belmont outscored the SpyPonders, 20-13, to extend its halftime margin from eight to 15 at the start of the final eight minutes.

The victory, revenge for the loss in December at Arlington (12-3) where Belmont (13-2) gave up a late lead for its first loss of the season, puts Belmont a game up in the race for the league championship. 

“We kind of flipped the last game around in defense, rebounding and pounding them on the glass,” said Adam Pritchard, Belmont’s long-time head coach. 

Lead by league all-star point guard Matt Kerans who finished with 20 points (including two threes, double-digit in assists and 8-8 from the line), Belmont stayed with the quick SpyPonders which used its quickness and opportunistic defense through the first quarter (15-14 Arlington lead) before a bucket by sophomore Tomas Dononyan (2 points) followed in quick succession by a pair of threes from junior guard Daron Hamparian (8 points) gave the Marauders a 24-17 lead with 5:30 to go in the half. 

Belmont’s dominance under the basket was evident when on several occasions when the Marauders had multiple looks at the basket by grabbing the offensive bound, in one sequence, taking four than six shots at the hoop before making the bucket. 

“There’s not doubt that our forwards are a big part of our game because it opens the court for Kerans and our guards,” said Pritchard. 

The Marauders went into the break with a 38-30 lead followed a surging junior forward Paul Ramsey who scored 7 of his 16 points in the second, two nights from a 23 point performance against Watertown in a 69-60 victory. 

Arlington could not muster a sustained challenge against the Marauders as Belmont matched every SpyPonder point run with one of its own. Arlington junior captain Colin McNamara scored nine of his team-high 20 in the fourth. 

There remain parts of the team’s game that could use improving moving forward, said Pritchard. 

“We have a big line-up but we have to handle full-court pressure and certainly must work on our rebounding and to be honest, we have to get healthy,” he said.


Sports: Belmont Boys’ Hoops Bumped from Undefeated on Last Second Drive at Arlington

Photo: Belmont’s junior Dylan Ferdinand making a layup vs. Arlington.

It was not the way Belmont High Boys’ Basketball Head Coach Adam Pritchard wanted his team to prep before facing a pair of strong basketball squads in the Boston Amateur Basketball Club’s annual Holiday Classic in Boston over the holiday break. 

An inspired game by host Arlington High School minus the solid games Belmont had been playing in the first four games of the season added up to a loss for the Marauders, knocking them from the undefeated.

Tied at 58 after a  layup with 12 seconds remaining, Belmont’s defense could not contain Arlington’s junior guard Colin McNamara (a game high 17 points) who drove through the Marauders defense to score the winning bucket with 1.2 seconds left and give Arlington (4-1) the 60-58 win over Belmont (4-1) on Wednesday, Dec. 23.

Pritchard didn’t mince words disecting the defeat.

“We played lousy defense, we didn’t box out. You lose by two points, you think it comes down to this and that. But flat out, right down to the last play of the game when [McNamara] beat us off the dribble. That play happened over and over again,” said Pritchard.

“I’m sure all our guys are disappointed but this game isn’t that complicated. You keep the guys in front of you, you box out, you limit them to one shot and that did not happen,” he said.

A close affair for the entire game, both teams came out guns ‘a blazing, scoring 18 points in the first quarter with seven Marauders getting on the scoring column led by senior shooting guard Cole Bartels (10 points) with a three and a two 

The Marauders kept up the pressure in the paint in the second quarter as senior Luke Peterson (9 points) dropped in a pair of hoops as well as a free throw to contribute five of Belmont’s 12 points, giving the visitors a 30-27 lead at the half.

After the break, Arlington found its D and worked hard fronting Belmont’s players, limiting the Marauders to mostly outside shots. Senior point guard Matt Kerans (16 points) and Bartels each hit open threes but Belmont could only muster two other baskets while Danny Slebodnick led the SpyPonders with 7 points which tallied 16 points to Belmont’s 10 in the third, and falling behind the hosts ssssaasaby three, 43-40.

“They played better defence than us. It didn’t have anything to do with home or away,” said Pritchard.

The fourth stanza saw Belmont hanging around one to three points from the Arlington lead, cutting it to a single point, 54-53 with three minutes to play on a Justin Wagner layup.

After swapping a basket and a free throw (Belmont missed a third, 6 of 18, of their chances from the charity strip), a good defensive stance gave the Marauders the ball wth 26 seconds left. A drive by Kerans opened the court for junior sixth man Dylan Ferdinand (6 points) to hit a layup with 12 second remaining to tie the game.

Yet the basket wasn’t enough to secure a chance at overtime.

Belmont will spend the winter recess going against some heavy hitters in the Holiday Classic being held at Cathedral High School in Boston’s South End. Thirteen boys’ basketball teams, including three from out of state, will take part in the tournament.

Belmont opens the tourney vs. Everett at 11 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 28 then taking on New Bedford at 4:20 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 29.