Yardemian Breaks 1,000 Point Mark In Win Over Arlington; Girls’ Stay Unbeaten

Photo: Danny Yardemian with his folks after scoring his 1,000’s point.

It wasn’t if but when Danny Yardemian would break the 1,000 point barrier against Arlington Friday night, Jan. 11.

And the 1,000th and 1,001st points came on a layup just before the half time buzzer blared as Yardemian capped off an 18 point first half against the SpyPonders.

But any hoopla for reaching that career highlight would wait for the end of the matchup.

“Let’s celebrate a little now but let’s get back into the game,” the senior guard and captain told his teammates before heading to the lockers.

By the finish, Yardemian put up 27 points as Belmont prevailed, 77-54, in a relatively dominant team performance against the back-to-back Middlesex Liberty Division champions which usually had the best of Belmont over the past four seasons.

While the countdown on Yardemian’s 1,000th point breakthrough was one everyone’s mind in the Wenner, about the game, Belmont resembled a sprint squad at a track meet as Head Coach Adam Pritchard has the Marauders’ running, running and running some more, creating a myriad of scoring opportunities resulting in the Marauders’ putting up a gaudy 73 points per game. And putting the pedal to the metal is how Belmont shot off to a 16-9 lead after one with Yardemian leading the way with 6 points followed by 3s from junior Mac Annus (20 points) and sophomore Tim Minicozzi (14 points).

Belmont upped the lead to 35-22 by the half as Yardemian hit a pair of 3s and scored his 11th and 12th points of the second quarter on a layup from co-captain senior guard Ben Sseruwagi as time expired.

Arlington would cut the lead to 10 early in the third quarter before Annus scored 11 points of his 14 in the third on a two minute personal run to secure the win. 

After the game – and before the celebratory cake was presented with his accomplishment in icing – Yardemian thanked his teammates over the past four years “who set up plays that allowed me to score. It’s a team sport and I couldn’t do it without these 13 other guys. They’re all special.”

“It’s been a really special year for me,” said the Bentley-bound all purpose guard, having set the team’s single game scoring record at 46 points earlier in the season against Lexington. “It means a lot to get those records and have an individual banner. They all were goals I had for myself but we have bigger things to accomplish along the way.”

Belmont ups its record to 9-1 after defeating the SpyPonder and Melrose on Tuesday, coming off Sunday’s first loss of the season against Algonquin Regional in a “Heritage” game held at the TD Garden in Boston. (While counted as a defeat on its record, the Heritage game is not counted when determining the team’s seed in the MIAA postseason tournament.)

Girls’ Remain Undefeated 

It’s been a wild week for the undefeated Belmont High Girls’ Hoops squad, defeating a pair of one-loss teams, Reading and Melrose, before hosting Arlington High in the early game of the twin bill at the Wenner Field House. While its record is just north of .500, this edition of the SpyPonders are young – the varsity is made up of two seniors and nine sophomores (four youngsters are starters) – and more than happy to play a little rough and tumble. (Watch out for this team in two years time.)

While the visitors stuck around early, Belmont’s hallmark aggressive half-court zone defense and points under the basket settled the outcome of the game by the half as the Marauders remain unbeaten with a 48-30 win. Belmont is currently 9-0 (7-0 in league play) and ranked in the top five of both the Boston Globe and Herald Top 20 High School polls. 

Up five after the first quarter, 15-10, Belmont upped its defensive stance on the young challengers entering the second. And what a difference for Belmont as the SpyPonders could not stop the Marauders’ speed (Belmont had 13 steals in the game) or contend with the host’s considerable height advantage under the glass (6 blocks and 9 offensive rebounds for the team) as the ‘Ponders registered a goose egg over the eight minutes as Belmont took a 20 point cushion (30-10) into the half behind the starting backcourt pairing of senior Megan Tan (6 points in the first half) and freshman Nina Minicozzi (eight in the first) as both finished with 10 points. 

“We got a lot of offense from our guards because they were just quicker on both ends of the court,” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart. 

“We passed the ball around really well and that got everyone open at some point,” said sophomore Miaya Bergdorf who was top scorer with 15 points including three 3s.

While the lead hovered around 2o for the second half, Arlington was unafraid to bang with the Marauders with each loose ball ending up with bodies lying on the deck. 

“They were physical but that really didn’t bother us because [our forwards] are pretty tall and they still were able to get the rebounds,” said Bergdorf, referring to seniors Jess Giorgio, Jane Mahon, Ella Gagnon and sophomore center Emma McDevitt who came off the bench to score 5 points and secure a game-high six rebounds, half off the offensive boards.

Yardemian Breaks Single-Game Points Record As Boys, Girls Hoops Down Lexington

Photo: Danny Yardemian after scoring his record-breaking 46th point.

The first Girls’/Boys’ Basketball Friday Night doubleheader saw a record fall and Belmont’s teams gather their second wins at Lexington on Friday, Dec. 14.

Boys’: Danny Goes For 46, Belmont cruises late

If there was one word that would describe senior guard Danny Yardemian night against Lexington, it would be “drive.”

As in drive from the top of the key, drive along the baseline, drive at players and drive to the hoop. By the end of the night, Yardemian drove past Belmont’s long-standing single-game points record of 44 points – held by three players – as the league all-star hit for 46 leading the Marauders to an 89-73 victory over a physical Lexington squad. 

Danny’s night included 19 baskets, a single 3, and five free throws in a demonstration of consistency, scoring 13, 13 and 14 points in the first three quarters before coming out with 6 in the fourth. Lexington’s defensive approach to Yardemian led to the majority of his points coming off the dribble.

Saying that his usually reliable mid to long-range jumpers are not yet falling, “[Lexington was] giving me the inside and I took it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said

When asked about Yardemian’s record-breaking performance, longtime Head Coach Adam Pritchard nonchalantly called it “a pretty good night.” 

“He should have scored 50,” quipped Pritchard. “I could have gotten 60 if I knew how to shoot free throws,” said Yardemian. 

After dispatching a young Wilmington team, 99-44, on the road Tuesday in the season opener, Belmont came to the Lexington High School gym for a step up in competition as the Minutemen overpowered Stoneham, 81-56, in its opener. And it was a matchup of the Minutemen’s strength and height against Belmont’s speed and having the better one-to-five on the floor. Given the inside with a single defender assigned to him, Yardemian started early, scoring 13 points as his teammates contributed 11 in the first quarter while Lexington relied on its big presence at center, senior Kase Cronin (8 points in the first eight minutes, 18 points for the game) on the inside and guards junior Will Amsler and senior Jazin Ayala (16 points each) from the perimeter. 

Belmont’s opportunist defense jumped into passing lanes and setting up under its basket would keep Lexington trailing by 7 to 9 points for most of the second quarter with senior Ben SSeruwagi and sophomore Tim Minicozzi (11 points each) assisting Yardemian who put up his second 13 point quarter to propel Belmont a 50-41 halftime lead.

Lexington would cut the Marauders’ advantage with a big and tall lineup to four in the second half, but just as quickly Yardemian was there to take on single and double defenders to score. In the third, he began calling for the floor to the cleared to allow him to either make his now patient drive or pass to a teammate such as this year’s discovery, sophomore Preston Jackson-Stephens (7 points) who left his mark on both ends of the court, with hard-nose defense under the boards and a steady stroke from outside that included a killer 3 in the final quarter. 

Belmont blew the game wide open after the Minutemen closed the gap to 68-64, going on a 13-0 run from late in the third to midway into the fourth quarter. Shortly after he broke the record, Yardemian was taken out to receive a well-deserved round of applause.

“I have to credit coach and team,” said Yardemian. “They attracted defenders, and I got one-on-ones.”

While only two games into the season, Belmont is currently averaging an NBA-like 94 points a game with Yardemian at a 31 PPG clip. Belmont takes on Stoneham at home on Tuesday and Winchester on Thursday. 

Girls Hoops Takes The Measure of the Minutemen

In the near past, a visit to Lexington was hardly a pleasant experience when the Minutemen possessed a scoring machine named Anna Kelly, she who holds the Wenner=omml Field House scoring record with 54 points. But recently, a trip to this neighboring town has resulted in happier outcomes.

On Friday, in the matinee of the doubleheader, the Marauders used a suffocating defense to run away from the Minutemen to secure a workmanlike victory, 58-29, to go to 2-0 in the Middlesex League.

“I still don’t think our offense is where it should be, but then you don’t want to play your best at this time of the season,” said Melissa Hart, Belmont’s head coach.

After trailing 2-1 in the first minute, it was all Belmont for the remaining 31 minutes as the team used its overall speed to produce a steady stream of steals while forcing bad shots as the Marauders outplayed the hosts, 34-9 in the first half. Seniors Meghan Tan (9 points) and Jane Mahon sparked the offense in the first quarter with 7 and 4 points respectively after freshman starter Nina Minicozzi hit a long-range bucket for a three for the second game running.

Sophomore Maiya Bergdorf scored 9 of her 14 total points in the third quarter to lead the Marauders in scoring. The final half was less than thrilling as both teams appeared to emphasize defense and passing than reverting to schoolyard play. 

One downside in Belmont’s win was the return of an old bugaboo that the Marauders hadn’t seen for the past three years; missed free throws as Belmont went 8 for 18 from the charity stripe.

Belmont will be on the road Tuesday in Stoneham and Thursday with the boys’ at home vs. Winchester.