Volleyball Takes Lessons From Battles With State’s Top Programs

Photo: Belmont’s Nena Trifunovic breaks through the block of Melrose.

Let’s start with the “bad” news this past week: Belmont High’s volleyball team dropped its first two games this season. The “good” news: It can be competitive with a pair of the top programs in the state, “top” as in squads in the Boston Globe’s Top 20 poll.

After losing to perennial Middlesex League powerhouse Melrose (ranked 8th) 3-1, last Monday, Sept. 16 to drop from the unbeaten, the Marauders spent Friday in Winchester (3rd ranked) where they fought a spirited, but losing battle with the Sachems by an identical, 3-1, score.

“I came in knowing it was going to be a fight against both [teams],” said Jen Couture, Belmont’s head coach. “I was hoping that [the team] would rise to the challenge. And they did because what I saw was some of the best volleyball we’ve played.”

Belmont faced two teams that are some of the best in the state: Melrose was a sectional semifinalist last year and a state finalist in 2017 while Winchester has turned on the afterburners this season having pummeled Barnstable – a state finalist, state semifinalist and state champions in the past three years – 3-1 earlier in the year.

In each of its matches, the Marauders would take a rare set from both squads – only the second time that has happened this season to Winchester, winning 25-22 – while remaining competitive thought the games.

Leading Belmont were co-captains Mindee Lai, Sophia Estok and Nena Trifunovic who stepped up with outstanding service games, “the most consistent we’ve been serving wise this season,” Couture said after the Winchester game.

Belmont’s Katherine Bai (4) at the net vs. Melrose.

Adding to Belmont’s attack is rising star sophomore Katherine Bai who is second to Lai in kills with a kill ratio of 43 percent.

If there was one area that Belmont has some work to do setting up its blocking against opponents with taller frontline attackers. “We keep tweaking the lineup every game to adjust it based on the opponent. It keeps evolving,” Couture said.

Belmont would not leave the week empty handed defeating previously unbeaten Lexington at home on Wednesday in a match that was as exciting as it was close, 3 sets to 2, going to 15-12 in the final set.

After dispatching quickly of the Minutemen in the first set and a more competitive second, Lexington, behind its big hitter Taylor Salerno, took control in the third and fourth sets to extend the game into a final fifth set.

In the decider, Trifunovic produced three winners at the net and Lai’s pinpoint serving gave Belmont an early 6-1 lead. Lexington’s blocking along with Salerno’s playmaking brought the Minutemen back to a 10 all tie. But Belmont would take the next four points – with Estok serving an ace at 12-10 – to secure the win.

“A game like this gives the team a confidence boost,” said Trifunovic. “Lexington was undefeated coming here so now we know that we can play these intense five sets against very good teams.”

“But next time we’ll keep it to three sets,” Trifunovic said.

Boys’ Soccer Remains Unbeaten As Girls’ Go 2-0 For The Week

Photo:

It was rock’em sock’em soccer at Harris Field on Thursday night, Sept. 142 as Belmont High Boys’ Soccer literally battled it out with Melrose, coming away with a 1-0 victory to keep its record unblemished at 3-0-0.

Senior Jon Brabo scored on a header from a corner by junior Theo Kargere five minutes into the game to give all the Marauders’ needed this night that saw more penalty cards – one for Belmont, two to Melrose – than goals as the chippiness factor increased as the hour got late.

That was in mark contrast to the goal fest ore n the grass in Stoneham on Tuesday, Sept. 11 where the Marauders needed a Barbo hat trick to keep the Spartans at bay, 5-2.

Against Melrose, senior goalkeeper Finbar Rhodes garnered his second shutout of the campaign as he had little to do as Belmont kept the Red Raiders on the back foot for most of the evening event. When Melrose turned to a more physical style, Belmont was able to counter with a more skills-based approach

“I was just telling the guys, sometimes other teams will try to suck you into their style of play, and then you’re trying to work your way out of that. The guys showed a lot of composure; they are really disciplined on their own. They’re saying all the things that I would say anyway, prior to me saying it to them, so they know what’s going on,” said Belmont Head Coach Brian Bisceglia-Kane.

Belmont will see a big step up in competition as the Marauders host undefeated Lexington – ranked 5th in the Boston Globe Top 20 – on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at Harris Field at 7:30 p.m.

Girls’ Soccer take two

After being shutout and shutdown in the season opener to Wilmington, Belmont High Girls’ Soccer are beginning to righting the ship with a pair of solid victories this past week.

On Thursday, Sept. 13, junior forward Kiki Christofori – who is better known for her two-point baskets – struck for a second-half brace as the Marauders defeated Melrose, 2-0. Christofori first strike was from nearly 20 meters from goal into the top of the goal with a second powered past the goalie.

Earlier in the week, Belmont got a late scare from a tough and talented Stoneham High team – a 13 win sectional semifinalist last year – to sneak out of Harris Field with a 5-3 win. Sabrina Salls scored a brace including the final goal – a blast from more than 15 meters out – to give Belmont some breathing space after the Spartans scored twice in a seven-minute stretch late in the match to cut Belmont’s lead to 4-3.

Ally Landry wound up the night with three points: a goal – an unassisted strike with five minutes left in the first half to give Belmont a 2-1 margin after 40 minutes – and two assists. Marina Karalis scored the game-winner with 15 minutes remaining in the match while Jenna Thomas opened the scoring and closed it with a goal and an assist.

Long-time Belmont Head Coach Paul Graham said while the two late Stoneham goals were a result of not clearing the ball quickly or efficiently, Belmont score three of their goals off of set plays, either corners or free kicks.

The Marauders travel to Lexington on Wednesday before celebrating Soccer Night in Belmont on Saturday against a familiar foe, 3rd ranked Winchester.

After Dominating Wins, Belmont Boys’, Girls’ Hoops Meet Woburn In Semis Doubleheader

Photo: Jake Pollack under the basket vs. Melrose.

The Belmont High Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball teams are off to their North Sectional semifinals against Middlesex League rivals Woburn High on Thursday, March 8 after the both Marauder squads dominated their quarterfinals over the past weekend.

The doubleheader – the girls’ play at 5:30 p.m. and the boys’ at 7:30 p.m. at Burlington High School – was pushed back a day due to Wednesday’s pending Nor’easter. 

Tan’s career night leads Girls over last year’s champs Andover Saturday.

Just a little bit of self-confidence went a long way for Marauders’ junior guard Megan Tan on Saturday, March 3, against defending Division 1 North titleholders Andover High as Tan scored a career-high 27 points including three from beyond the arc as Belmont eased past the Golden Eagles, 68-46, in the Division 1 North sectional quarterfinals played in Belmont.

One would think that a three-year starter and mainstay of Belmont’s smothering defense would be at ease on the court. But Tan said this season she’s been struggling with mostly her shot selection.

“Throughout the year I’ve kinda struggled with my confidence. [Belmont Head] Coach (Melissa) Hart and I talked about it a lot. So today I had my head in the game,” said Tan after the game.

“I was playing like I wanted to play tonight and it worked out,” said Tan, who also contributed two assists and three steals for baskets resulting in six points.

But from Hart’s view, the victory was achieved by more than just giving the ball to Tan and watching her score.

“Everyone played really well. It wasn’t one of those one player games. It was a team win,” said Hart

Tan (a layup and the first of her threes) and Belmont got off to a quick start, up 7-0. Andover came back behind junior guard Gia Bramanti (6 in the quarter, 12 for the game), who at 6 feet towers over Tan who was covering her on defense, with the first quarter ending with the Marauders up two, 15-13 with Tan collecting 9 points in the stanza.

Up 18-16 early in the second, Belmont began grinding the game out, play by play, starting off with a trey from senior Jenny Call (6 points), the team’s career leader in threes. Junior Jane Mahon (6 points), Belmont’s sixth man, hit her trademark short jumper followed by workhorse senior forward Greta Propp’s layup (2 of her 10 points), Mahon again scoring in close with senior point guard Carly Christofori (6 points and a team-leading 6 rebounds) spinning in for two of her six points and suddenly Belmont was up 1o, 29-19, with 2:40 left in the half.

On the other end of the court, junior center Jess Giorgio (9 points) blocked a Bramanti runner while the team’s pressing pressure caused a traveling call on Andover on the next possession.

“Our defense frustrated them, and that was the real difference,” said Hart. Tan’s second three would give her 15 while the defense held the Golden Eagles to six in the quarter as the Marauders led at the break 34-19.

Belmont continued pressing its advantage in the second half as it steadily opened up an ever-increasing lead. The final quarter resembled a rec league game as the defense took a seat on the sidelines. 

As for meeting co-Middlesex League champs Woburn (19-2) for the third time this season – each team winning at home – “it will be a game of wills,” said Hart.

“It’s kind of nice to play them again because one of us can put this debate to rest. Hopefully, it’s us,” said Hart.

Slow start, fast finish as Boys’ dismantle Melrose

Trailing 11-0 to Middlesex League-rivals Melrose High after the first three minutes was not how Belmont High’s Head Coach Adam Pritchard was expecting from his team which just dismantled Charlestown High, 72-47, on Feb. 27. 

The Raiders arrived at the Wenner Field House looking for its second big playoff win after upsetting five-seed Masconomet earlier in the week and came out against the Marauders’ going right at the basket while deploying a 2-3 zone that cramped Belmont’s offense. 

But for Pritchard, the optimum word during the Raiders’ early run wasn’t “panic” but “patience.” 

“It was scary. They were really prepared to play, and we had to change things defensively to get it going. We took some chances, and it worked out,” said the longtime coach as his team proved their standing as the fourth seed by dispatching Melrose, 72-52, on Sunday night before the Academy Awards. 

A driving hoop by junior all-star Danny Yardemian put Belmont onto the scoreboard and senior forward Will Ellet first of five threes cut the lead to 11-5. 

While Yardemian and Ellet (each finishing with 17 points) were taking their game outside, the dirty work under the basket was assigned to senior center Jake Pollack that once again was looking up to a taller opposite center. Pollack’s presence came with a pair of offensive rebounds and a putback basket to tie the score at 13 with less than a minute remaining in the first. The quarter ended with Yardemian acting as a teacher, schooling the Melrose defender with a step back jumper to give Belmont its first lead of the game, 15-13. 

“We were resilient in the first quarter. A lot of teams can go down and get it into their heads. But we kept on going. We wouldn’t let the score take us from our game,” said Pritchard.

The second quarter was a back and forth affair knotted up at 20 with 4 minutes remaining as Belmont freshman Tim Minicozzi scored 5 of his 7 game points subbing for Yardemian who picked up his second foul early. Melrose took its final lead at 22-20 at 3:24 but it would be the Raiders’ highwater mark as Belmont’s pressure defense created a 10-second half court violation followed by yet another Ellet trey. As an explanation point, Ellet hustled down court to administer a monster block on an attempted layup which resulted in a 30-second violation.

With two minutes left in the quarter, Ellet’s fourth three of the half preceded Yardemian’s own three before the point guard spotted Pollack under the basket for a pair. Junior Ben Sseruwagi’s up and in (2 of his 8 points) and a Pollack block and rebound preserved a Marauders lead at the half, 33-26.

The third quarter is where the cream rose to the top as Belmont’s team defense and talent blew the game open as the Marauders outscored the Raiders’ 31-8 with Pollack battling for five of this 10 points before leaving the game due to a “turned ankle,” according to Pritchard.

“I had to hustle on both sides of the ball, get a defensive rebound than sprint down court and get an offensive rebound and put back. Every time, just outwork the other big guys,” said Pollack. 

By the fourth, both teams gave their reserves an opportunity to grab a few playoff minutes with Belmont using every one they could find on the bench.

For the second game running, Pritchard praised Pollack’s battling nature on the boards.

“We play a smaller lineup, and we have a kid who is going after rebounds, blocking shots and pressuring full court. He’s a special athlete. That motor is something,” Pritchard said.

Woburn (15-7) is a familiar opponent for Belmont (17-5) having beaten the Tanners both times they faced them this season. 

“I love [the Woburn coaching staff],” said Pritchard. “The coach is a good friend of mine, and the kids on both teams are very familiar with each other so it should be a heck of a game. It should be fun.” 

Final Minute Tally Secures Playoff Win For Belmont ‘Blond’ Boys’ Hockey

Photo: The victorious Belmont High squad, blond and happy (From the Belmont High Hockey twitter site (https://twitter.com/BHSPUCK_STATES)

The Blond Boys did it.

After falling behind four times only to come back to tie the score, Belmont High Boys’ Hockey – who dyed their hair a yellowish color en masse before the game – scored in the final minute to give the Marauders a thrilling 5-4 victory over Middlesex League-rival Melrose High in the first round of the Division 1 North Sectionals on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at Chelmsford.

Sophomore forward Justin Rocha scored his fourth goal of the season – the assist going to senior line mate Alec Morin – with 1:03 remaining to secure the win. Rocha also scored on the power play to tie the game at 4 with the assist from senior Tim Bailey. Senior forward Will Dominiconi started the three goal third period with an early tally to knot the game up at 3.

Dominiconi also started the scoring in the first with a goal from senior captain Connor Dacey. Senior assistant captain and team’s leading scorer Steve Rizzuto – who was awarded postgame the coveted Belmont firefighter’s helmet for his overall play – notched his 19th goal of the season on the penalty kill with a little more than five minutes remaining in the second.

Wednesday’s victory was the first MIAA tournament win for the Marauders since Belmont defeated Arlington, 6-5, in four OT’s in 2006.

And Belmont will meet number 1 seed SpyPonders for the third time this year in the D1North quarterfinals taking place on Saturday, March 3 at Woburn’s O”Brien Rink. The time has yet to be set.

Volleyball: Belmont Puts A Scare Into Melrose In Five Set Thriller

Photo: Action with Belmont High Volleyball.

On Monday, Columbus Day, Belmont High Volleyball traveled to Watertown and beat the Raiders three sets to zero (25-17, 25-9, 25-23) to up its record to 5-6, exceeding the number of victories last years campaign.

But Belmont Head Coach Jen Couture would instead talk about a lose from last week. In a thrilling home match held at Wenner Field House, Belmont was upended in a five-set marathon, 22-25, 25-11, 23-25, 25-18, 15-8, to perennial Middlesex League Freedom champs Melrose on Thursday, Oct. 5.

Melrose is once again cruising through its regular season, at 13-0, and had not been extended to five sets since the previous year. That was until they met the Marauders.

“It was an amazing match,” said Couture. “Melrose has just historically been so dominant that we usually go into the match with hopes of taking a set and when we took the first set it was little surreal.”
 
Sophia Estok broke the one-game record for digs with 43 (besting the 40 successful serves received she set vs. Lexington) having done a great job reading the Raiders hitters. “She’s a very smart player who learns from every kill and adjusts to prevent another.” Leah Babroudi and Mindee Lai were next in digs with 21 and 17 respectively.
 
Jane Mahon and Lai led the offense with 10 and 7 kills, and Jen Tan chipped in 7 service aces.
Couture pointed to Lai’s overall contribution to the team’s effort on the court.
 
“The match … highlighted Lai’s athleticism as she also recorded three blocks and a couple of pancake [saves],” said Couture. “Lai is on the court 100 percent of the time, through many four and five set matches, chasing down every shanked ball and making great plays. It’s no wonder her teammates refer to her as ‘the Machine’.”
After winning the fourth set by seven points, Belmont was entering into well-worn territory.
 
“This was our fourth five-set match [of the season]” – recently defeating Wayland and Lexington in five – “but it was the first one where you could really notice the fatigue, due to the many long rallies throughout the match.  Melrose setter came out serving strong, going on a nine-point run to push its lead to 0-9. 
“I was afraid that we had given up, assuming Melrose was going to win because we had never known anything else. The set continued 2-10, 4-12, and at 5-14 before Lai came back to serve. 
Despite match point, “Lai served aggressively and consistently making it difficult for Melrose to set up a kill bringing the team to 8-14 when ultimately during a long rally Melrose setter put the ball away,” said Couture. 
“The run came just a little too late. But for those four points, something changed, and we all started to believe anything was possible. The biggest take away from the game was if we play our smart and consistently aggressive game, we can compete with any team in our league,” she said.
With a playoff berth within reach, Couture suggests a change in her line up with an eye on the future.
“Some Junior Varsity hitters have been dressing and participating in varsity matches, and I think we will be seeing some of them in more matches, to give our starters little rest so they can continue to play at their highest level until the very last point,” she said.

Sports: Calling Carly; Christofori Answers Scoring Need as Girls’ Hoops Wins Opener

Photo: Carly Christofori (3) heading up court.

With Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team having a collective hiccup on the offensive side of the court in the season and home opener with Melrose on Friday, Dec. 16 – a total of 26 points after three quarters – junior captain Carly Christofori decided the final eight minutes would be a good time to answer the scoring call.

The point guard who has played every varsity game in her three years on the Marauders scored 8 of her game-high 17 points in the final stanza to help Belmont pull away from the Red Raiders and leave the Wenner (Field House) with a less than beautiful 42-31 victory.

But a win is a win for the Marauders (1-0).

“Everyone was really nervous in the first game as everyone would be. I could see that everyone was jittery,” said Christofori who finished the game with 9 rebounds and 5 steals

“The game was a lot closer than we thought it would be we needed someone to step up and help control the game,” she said.

Christofori broke a 26-26 tie a minute into the fourth quarter on a fade away jumper then grabbed a defensive rebound and drove the length of the court before being fouled. After making one of two from the line (she would go 10 for 12 from the charity strip), she and backcourt partner sophomore Megan Tan (8 points) pressured Melrose to commit a turnover.

After a put back basket from sophomore forward Jane Mahon (3 points) and another offensive rebound hoop from junior forward Greta Propp (2 points), sophomore center Jess Giorgio (6 points) threw in a sweeping hook as the shot clock buzzer went off building Belmont’s lead up to 35-28 with 2:20 left in the game. A succession of trips to the foul line for Christofori put the game out of reach.

“After the third quarter, we said ‘we can beat this team. We just need to relax” That’s when everyone settled down, and people were stronger with the ball,” said Christofori.

If Belmont’s offense showed opening night nerves, the defense was in mid-season trim as the hands-up two-three zone was quite active with Giorgio swatting away three Red Raider shots. When Head Coach Melissa Hart partners Giorgio with either of the Haight twins – seniors Reagan and starter Riley (2 points) – Mahon and the athletic big forward sophomore Ella Gagnon (who played her first varsity game and put in 2 of 4 free throws), it is one of the tallest defensive back three around the Middlesex League.

“Defense will be our strong suit this season. We always talk in practice to work hard on defense and the offense will come by itself,” said Christofori.

“We’re a taller team and have stronger kids so focusing on rebounding, steals and anticipating passes will get us our points,” she said.

img_3367 img_3366 img_3363 img_3358 img_3352 img_3339 img_3320 img_3314 img_3311 img_3286 img_3273 img_3270 img_3265 img_3259 img_3251 img_3250 img_3249 img_3233 img_3230 img_3223 img_3216 img_3210 img_3202 img_3192 img_3189 img_3185 img_3180 img_3178 img_3173 img_3172 img_3164 img_3160 img_3144 img_3141 img_3130 img_3124 img_3121 img_3118 img_3098 img_3084 img_3066 img_3065 img_3061 img_3046 img_3044 img_3041 img_3031 img_3010 img_3008 img_3007 img_3001 img_2998 img_2995 img_2990 img_2986

 

Sports: Allard Lead Belmont Girls’ To Late Win At Stoneham, Now 2-0

Photo: A happy Belmont team swarm Carey Allard after the junior scored the winning goal at Stoneham.

Give Carey Allard an inch … well, you know the rest.

Belmont wins.

The junior all-star forward used a moment of indecision by Stoneham defender Mari Avola who had dogged her successfully for 74 minutes, charging by her using track sprinter speed to break alone against Stoneham’s keeper. The Division 1 commit quickly slipped the ball into the left side of the netting to give Belmont a 1-0 win on a warm, humid Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, keeping the Marauders’ perfect after its first two games.

On Thursday, Sept. 8, Belmont opened the season with a 5-1 win at Melrose with Allard scoring Belmont’s first four goals of the season.

For Belmont Head Coach Paul Graham, the team’s performance at Stoneham was “just good enough for us to win.”

“Something always happens on this field,” said Graham of the grass surface that is noticeably narrow.

“I’ve been 22-0, and I can only win 1-0 here. I don’t know what it is,” he said.

“Thank goodness we have Allard. She’s a difference maker,” he said.

But for much of the match, Allard could not shake her shadow Avola who played Belmont’s main scoring threat tight and physical including a yellow card Avola picked up with 10 minutes remaining in the game. While Belmont did have its chances – junior Emily Duffy breakaway in the second half was parried away as well as a post being hit – the team did not dominate the game as it did against Melrose.

Stoneham’s pressure put Belmont’s midfield and defense on the back heel for portions of the match especially in the second half, as Stoneham hit the crossbar and narrowly missed the post on a header midway through the half. The one shot the Spartans had within the box was stopped by senior goalkeeper Georgia Parsons who recorded her first clean sheet this season.

With both sides having chances in the final minutes, it was likely the first goal by either team would be the winner. After a threat by Stoneham was kicked downfield by sophomore forward Ella Gagnon, it was time for Allard to make her mark on the game.

“Ella played a great ball, and I saw that [Avola] was getting in front of me, so I just went with her and then cut her off,” said Allard, who lost her voice after the game.

Allard said her scoring prowess is due to her “teammates playing me great passes. I’m just the one who finishes them for goals.”

Allard will need to be at her best as Belmont meet ranked Wilmington at home on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m.

img_5939 img_5942 img_5945 img_5954 img_5956 img_5971 img_5987 img_5990 img_5996 img_6002 img_6011 img_6026 img_6029 img_6045 img_6141 img_6143 img_6145 img_6152 img_6175 img_6185 img_6187 img_6205 img_6206 img_6225 img_6242 img_6300 img_6304 img_6316 img_6317 img_6319 img_6330 img_6338 img_6339 img_6340 img_6341 img_6342 img_6343 img_6344 img_6345 img_6346 img_6347 img_6348 img_6349 img_6350 img_6351 img_6355 img_6357 img_6359 img_6360 img_6363 img_6365 img_6367 img_6375

Sports: Boys’ Basketball Takes Opener Defeating Melrose, 66-58

Photo: Belmont’s Cole Bartels fouled vs. Melrose. 

Belmont High Boys’ Basketball went “small” in the second half to shrug off a sluggish first half to win going away, 66-58, over a game Melrose squad in the 2015-16 season opener on the road.

“We have an advantage of being able to change our lineup when the circumstance arises,” said Belmont’s long-time head coach Adam Pritchard, who spoke highly of “the juniors who stepped up” during the third quarter when Belmont’s defense held a quick Red Raider team to eight points.

Belmont was led by its senior all-star backcourt of co-captains Cole Bartels (20 points) and pre-season Middlesex League all-star point guard Matt Kerans (16 points) who threw in three threes (his only baskets of the game) to stem a Melrose surge that saw Belmont at one point trail by five (25-20) midway through the second quarter. 

Belmont came out the gates strong with big men senior Luke Peterson (6 of his 8 points in the first quarter) and co-captain Justin Wagner (8 points) who put in a banked three (!) and a hoop early to lead the Marauders to an 18-13 lead at the end of the first.

At the start of the second half, (Belmont held a 37-34 lead at the half) the Marauders substituted to what at times appeared to be a four guards and one forward formation to counter the speedy home team. And Pritchard’s gamble paid off as Belmont’s perimeter defense forced the Red Raiders to take shots from distance that, turned out, was not their forte. 

On offense, the inclusion of sophomore Tomas Donoyan (4 points) and three juniors; Dylan Ferdinand, Bryan Goodwin (his four points on 2-2 shooting were the only baskets for the Marauders in the final quarter) and Paul Ramsey (6 points), opened the court for Bartels who stroked a pair of threes to end the quarter with nine points as the Marauders outscored the Raiders 14-8 to grab a nine-point lead (51-42). 

While the hosts cut the lead to two possessions at 62-56, there only remained half-a-minute on the clock, with Belmont feasting on the charity stripe in the final eight minutes as Bartels went 4-4 and Kerans 6-6 from the line. 

Next up for Belmont is a road match at Stoneham on Friday before the home opener at the Wenner (on the new court) on Monday, Dec. 21 at 5 p.m. vs. Wilmington. 

IMG_4749 IMG_4767 IMG_4782 IMG_4788 IMG_4795 IMG_4804

Boys’ Ice Hockey Solid in Shutout Victory Over Stoneham for First Win

Sophomore goalie Cal Christofori backstopped a shutout Saturday afternoon, Dec. 20, as the Belmont High School Ice Hockey squad kept the lid on Stoneham’s forwards for a 2-0 victory at the “Skip.”

The win put the Marauders at .500 coming after a tough 3-2 home loss to Melrose High School in the season opener.

“It was easy for me since my [defense] played so well,” said Christofori.

The defense, led by top pair Adam Cronin and Trey Butler, took charge in clearing the front of the slot.

“Most of the shots I saw coming which is important and there was a lot that were blocked. Everyone did a great job,” Christofori.

While the game was a mostly even affair with equal numbers of scoring chances for each side, Belmont capitalized on their opportunities. With five minutes to go in the first, senior captain Brian Garrett pounced on the puck a Stoneham player whiffed clearing from a face-off to the left of Stoneham goalie Peter Barry and sent a snap shot by Barry’s stick hand blocker.

Belmont scored on the power play only two minutes into the second period when Garrett’s line mate, big senior center Joe Paolillo rocketed a shot by Barry to double the lead.

After the goal, the game got a bit chippy as penalties began piling up and emotions got the best of some players.

In the midst of that, Chistofori stayed calm, coming up with many routine saves along with a few tough ones including coming across and out of his crease to take a one-timer from the stick of Stoneham’s Mike Halpin in the final 90 seconds of the second period.

While Stoneham took the game to Belmont in the final 15 minutes seeking the equalizer, Belmont’s collective defense plan only allowed the Spartans a few clear cut chances in the period.

Belmont Boys’ Basketball Throws 6s, Again, in Home Opener Win Over Melrose

Photo: Belmont High School’s senior center Adam Kleckner grabs an offensive rebound vs. Melrose in the Marauder’s 66-50 win on Dec. 19, 2014. 

The number 66 is a spheric, triangular, hexagonal and a semi-meandric number. And being a multiple of a perfect number, 66 is itself a semiperfect number.

It is also been the number of points the Belmont High School Boys’ Basketball have averaged in their first two victories of the 2014-15 season. That calculation is a simple one as the Marauders have scored 66 points in those consecutive games.

On Friday afternoon, Dec. 19, at Belmont’s home opener against a scrappy Melrose High team, the Marauders led from start to finish, going ahead 11-1 before exploding for 27 points in the third quarter to win easily, 66-50, at the friendly, linoleum court confines of Wenner Field House.

“Don’t take anything away from Melrose. They are a good team with a great shooter [Cody Andrews, who topped all scorers with 23 points),” said Belmont Head Coach Adam Pritchard.

“We got our break going and grabbed the rebounds we needed to play our game plan,” said Pritchard.

And that game over the first two matches this season is speed and muscle as junior guard Matt Kerans came off a sub-par game (for him) at Watertown to match senior All-Star center Adam Kleckner in scoring both from the outside and close to the basket. While Kerans connected for a trio of treys for 9 of his 17 points, the big man (6-foot, 5-inches) Kleckner buried a pair from beyond the arc to round out a workman-like 13 points and a gaggle of rebounds.

After jumping out to a 10 point lead midway through the opening frame, Belmont kept the 10 point margin through the first half with starting third guard Jaemar Paul (12 points) sinking two treys and senior sub Peter Durkin going four-for-four from the line.

After Andrews’ five baskets in the second quarter cut the lead to eight at the half, 30-22, the Marauders displayed an ability to step on the gas and put the breaks on the opponent’s offense in the third quarter as Belmont outscored the Red Raiders, 27-11, as the team hit six threes, lead by the two-way play of senior guard Ben Lazenby (13 points) who scored 10 points (including two threes), dished out assists and created two steals.

By the end of the quarter, the benches started emptying for both teams.

“I wish I could say that it was all coaching that gives us the edge in second halfs  but I would be lying,” said Pritchard.

“[The players] know what needs to be done and they push themselves. There’s no big secret,” he said.