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.

Froshs Standout in Girls’ Basketball Wins Home Opener, 56-40, Over Melrose

Belmont High School Girls’ Basketball’s home opener victory, 56-40, over Melrose High Friday night, Dec. 19 was the quintessential “team” win with seven players scoring and a smothering defense stifling the Red Raiders’ attack that beat up Winchester just three days before.

But it’s hard not to notice when a pair of 9th graders are becoming important components in what could become a very interesting year for the Marauders. In just their second high school game, freshmen Jenny Call (10 points including a pair of three-point bombs) and Carly Christofori (game high 12 points with several steals and assists) scored in double digits with Christofori using her natural ball handling skills and to join senior Sophia Eschenbach-Smith (3 points) as the team’s point guard, who runs the team’s offense on the court.

“[Christofori] is so quick and aggressive and reads the floor so well,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Melissa Hart while noting that Call, who came off the bench, “got into a groove hitting those outside shots which started to spread out the court.”

“They are not only good athletes, but good basketball players with talent,” said Hart.

“I like being the leader on the court.” said Christofori, who is the younger sister of multi-sports starter Cal.

“But it’s easy because my teammates know the place they have to be and are there at the right time. So everything falls into place for me,” she said.

While the freshmen were one part of the story of the second game of the season (Belmont lost to a strong host Watertown team, 53-42, on Tuesday, Dec. 16) Hart complemented the play of senior forward Elena Bragg who was a presence on both ends of the court, scoring 11 points and grabbing numerous rebounds (just missing a “double-double” with nine grabs) and throwing herself after any loose ball in her vicinity.

Emerging as a central theme for the team this year is a “in-your-face” defense that puts pressure on the team once they step on the court. Led by senior center Linda Herlihy (7 points, three solid blocks and rebounds galore) and sophomore Irini Nikolaidis (7 points), the team kept the Red Raiders top scorer, junior guard Sarah Foote, under wraps and the team forced to take outside shots. Nikolaidis, with her speed and long arms, has become a nuisance for opposing team’s point guards.

The Marauders led from start to finish, leading 14-6 after the first quarter and when Melrose cut the lead to 16-12 at the halfway point of the second, Nikolaidis went 2 for 4 from the line in-between a Herlihy block (that brought cheers from the student bleachers) before a Bragg free throw gave Belmont a 20-14 half time lead.

The third quarter sealed the win with Christofori scoring on a drive, Nikolaidis hitting a three (Belmont’s three treys was the most beyond the arch in two years) and junior Sarah Steward (4 points on 4 for 6 from the charity stripe) running down a Red Raider who was on a solo breakaway to prevent the score to up the advantage to 41-19. The icing was on the cake when senior Lauren Noonan (2 points) hit a sweet jumper in the final two minutes.

Hart said the game was a distinct improvements over the Watertown game while improvements can still be made in terms of shot selection and “just scoring under the basket.”


“The five seniors