Kleckner Joins Exclusive 1,000 Point Club as Marauders’ Beat Lexington

Senior Adam Kleckner said he had “a few butterflies” when he came to Wenner Field House Wednesday, Feb. 11 for the matchup against Lexington.

It wasn’t the typical pre-game anxiety against a familiar rival. On Wednesday night, Kleckner was on the cusp of joining a rarified basketball fraternity: the 6’5″ Middlesex League all-star was just 12 points from reaching 1,000 points in his four-year high school career.

“It’s amazing that I was that close,” said the senior captain.

With a dozen points, Kleckner would join just a handful of Marauder boys to hit the century mark.

(Belmont’s 1,000 point club includes Steven Pollard (’86), 1,294 points; Mike Costello (’96), 1,264; Mark Mulvey (’93), 1.213; Timmie Barrows (’07), 1,126; Larry Norman (’88), 1,096 and Asa Palmer (’93), 1,055.)

It appeared Kleckner would get to the landmark early, scoring the game’s first hoop in the initial 15 seconds while grabbing a bucket full of rebounds. But when he reached 998 with three minutes to go in the first quarter, Kleckner went surprisingly cold; miscues on a few “bunnies”, having his shots blocked and then missing a pair of foul shots that would have set the mark.

The record would have to wait until midway through the second quarter as Kleckner stood at 999. A foul under the hoop put the senior on the line and the first shot, he buried the shot and entered Marauder history.

Congratulations from teammates and head coach Adam Pritchard, a commemorative ball was produced, and his parents and brothers came out onto the court for hugs, kisses and photographs to mark the occasion.

After the game, which Belmont won 64-49 to go 12-6 (and which Kleckner did not score after his milestone), Kleckner said achieving the mark was the result of “a lot of practices and training.”

“But I could not have made it without amazing teammates who helped me over the past four years,” said Kleckner.

Belmont Girls’ Hoops Stumbles to Lexington and its Superstar, 54-46

Disappointment. You could see it in the face of Belmont High School Girls’ Basketball Head Coach Melissa Hart after the team took a tumble against host Lexington High School on Tuesday, Jan. 13.

The 54-46 loss was a step back for the Marauders, who have lost two consecutive games and falling to 4-3 overall and in the Middlesex League after reeling off four straight victories.

“We were enjoying that we were that good,” said Hart of the four-game winning streak that included a victory over a strong Arlington High squad. “We have to get our focus back on basketball.”

Tuesday’s game saw Belmont never getting into the rhythm offensively it has shown since the opener with Watertown with only junior Irini Nikolaidis reaching double digits (16 points) to lead the Marauders.

And Belmont needed to up its point production as it faced someone in white and gold many of the girls’ knew only too well. Minuteman guard Anna Kelly is just a junior but has already topped 1,000 points in her career – in a game played in Orlando at the ESPN complex – while dropping 43 points against a team from California a few weeks ago. She is a superstar – she is projected to be playing top-flight Div. 1 basketball in college – that makes a very average team very good.

But Belmont knows Kelly best from last year’s match at Wenner Field House when she scored 52 points against the Marauders, a Lexington school and Belmont gym record and the third-most points by a girl in recorded state history.

Tuesday saw a more human side to Kelly, missing more shots than making and throwing up an air ball (!) while being defended by senior Sophia Eschenbach-Smith (3 points) and junior Sarah Stewart (6 points).

And while the Belmont defenders kept Kelly to “only” 24 points, whenever Lexington (6-4, 5-2) needed a basket to first take the lead (a jumper to make it 13-11 in the first quarter) or to stem a Belmont comeback (a running layup to up the Minutemen’s lead to 21-18), Kelly was there to drill another basket.

Adding to Belmont’s frustration was allowing Lexington to take uncontested three point shots. The Minutemen scored a three pointer while extending their lead including a gut-punch buzzer beater from 25 feet by junior Eleanor Van Arsdell (6 points) to end the first half, 28-22.

“Our worst statistic on defense is allowing three pointer. And they are starting to really hurt,” said Hart, pointing to Woburn who scored 5 threes.

With the lead in hand, Lexington dished out what Belmont usually does to opponents, applying close, man-to-man defense over the entire court. With the exception of freshman Jenny Call who hit a pair of threes, Belmont’s seeming reluctant to take outside shots forced the ball down low near the basket, only to find four Lexington players waiting in the paint. For Belmont’s forecourt of senior center Linda Herlihy (4 points), Stewart and senior Elena Bragg (4 points), it was like dancing in a crowded phone booth.

Belmont did rally to keep the score close (35-31), coming within three points (38-35) when freshman point guard Carly Christofori (4 points) hit two from the charity stripe with a minute remaining in the third quarter.

But there was that girl Kelly with a pair of jumpers to up the lead to 42-35 at the end of the quarter. An 11-0 run in the fourth sealed the deal for the Minutemen.

Next up for Belmont is an out-of-league matchup with Waltham High at Wenner Field House at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 15.


Despite Kleckner Loss, Belmont Boys’ Basketball Takes Host Lexington, 65-58

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for the Belmont High School Boys’ Basketball team, there was senior center Adam Kleckner sitting in street clothes at the end of the bench during the Marauders’ game with host Lexington High on Tuesday night, Jan. 14.

Last year’s co-Player of the Year in the Middlesex League who has been dominating the boards and scoring this season, Kleckner arrived to the game on crutches, the result of “a serious ankle sprain” that he suffered at practice the day before, said Belmont Head Coach Adam Pritchard.

The loss of the dominate center in the league for “the next few weeks” comes as the Marauders had traveled through a hideous patch of games, going 1-4 including last-minute losses to Woburn on Friday and Saturday to a winless Somerville High squad in the feature match held at the TD Bank Garden in Boston.

“It’s adversity that you have to accept,” said Pritchard, noting that during this season the team has lost to injury three of their four captains; Kleckner, starting shooting guard junior Matt Kerans and senior guard Tom Martin.

It appears fourth captain, senior point guard Ben Lazenby, should be outfitted with a rabbit’s foot.

Despite Kleckner’s loss, the Marauders’ was able to press the 1-7 Minutemen – which saw a potentially playoff run go to the wayside when brothers Tom and Harry O’Neil were recruited to play at St. John’s Prep – and score a series of three point buckets to walk away with a much needed, 65-58, victory.

“We just wanted to put down our heads and play fast and tough. Sometimes if you just give maximum effort and just do what you’re capable of, things work out. The team was great tonight,” said Pritchard.

While at times looking like a pick-up game at the local Y with a lot of running around but no scoring, Belmont relied on the inside play of now-starting junior center Justin Wagner and stellar work by senior guard Jaemar Paul and Luke Peterson which included yet another monster rejection from the junior forward.

Belmont kept seeing its lead yo-yo-ing between 10 and 4 points throughout the game, up by four at the half (29-25), then by 11 midway through the third, then back down to four points again (49-45) with six minutes to play in the game.

But that was as close as the Minutemen would come as Martin hit a three, Belmont stole the ball and senior forward Seth Altman hit one of two to increase the lead (53-45).

Lexington did stick around to within five points (57-52) but Lazenby was fouled on his successful layup for three more, a return to the line for two more and Kerans’ long-distance three pointer was the coup de grâce (65-55) with just under two minutes to play. 

Belmont will need this same drive and effort on Friday, Jan. 16, as they play a surging Winchester team (6-4, 4-4 in the league) with 6’4″ center Michael Grassey who is scoring 24 points a game.


Sports: Volleyball Spiked by Minutemen in Four Sets

Despite losing for the second time this season to a strong Lexington High School team, Belmont High Volleyball Senior Becki Sandvos came off the Wenner Field House court with a smile on her face.

“It’s definitely tough but it’s really fun to play against these good teams,” Sandvos said after Belmont suffered it’s fifth loss of the season on Friday afternoon, Oct. 24, falling to the Minutemen 3-1 (15-25, 25-14, 10-25, 19-25) to see their record sit at 14-5 going into the last game of the season against Winchester on Monday, Oct. 27.

“A lot of [today’s match] was a mental game. We know we can play better than that,” Sandvos said. But Belmont has the same issue so many teams have while playing the Minutemen and that is junior Nikita Selivan, a 6 foot, 160 pound who is one of the best middle-hitters in the region.

With a powerful shot and an approach jump of more than 9 feet, it’s small wonder that Division 1 college programs are already knocking on her door. In the game with Belmont, Lexington would routinely pass up easier set ups at the net and direct its attention to Selivan who would beat the majority of blocks set up by Belmont’s front line. She would also block a number of shots from Belmont players.  

In the second set, Belmont took control. Trailing 7-8, Belmont rode Sandvos’ serving and junior Kabita Das and senior Rosy Fitzgerald’s excellent play at the net to a 8-0 run to lead 15-8, an advantage Lexington could not break.

“We had a lot of confidence in the second set. Everything we did was working,” said Sandvos, who played one of her best games of the year especially setting up offensive strikes.

Early in the third set with the score 3-7, the Lexington head coach vigorously disputed a call and yelled at a supposed fan touting him (which turned out to be Belmont AD Jim Davis simply viewing the action). That stoppage seemed to both rattle the Marauders and take it out of its rhythm. Lexington build the lead to 16-9 as the Minutemen continually going to Selivan on the left side of the court.

With the score knotted at nine in the fourth set, Belmont committed several errors on its service, preventing any semblance of a rally to occur. The Minutemen pushed the lead up to four, 14-18, which the Marauders cut to 17-19. But that’s as close as Belmont would get.

Despite the loss, Belmont will likely have a home playoff game in the Div. 2 North sectionals that begins this week.

“We’re gonna come back and practice and work hard and be ready for for the states,” Sandvos said.