Girls Hoops Taking the ’75’ Tuesday, Feb 25, To Cambridge For Tourney Opener Vs R&L

Photo: Belmont’s Nina Minicozzi rounding the pick from Emma McDevitt during a game at the TD Boston Garden vs Pembroke.

After coming off a decisive away victory over Arlington on Feb. 7, the Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team was on a high note. At 11-6, the Marauders had secured a place in the MIAA Division 1 North tournament during a five game winning streak, had dominated fellow playoff squad in the SpyPonders – as well as revenging a home loss to Arlington – and was now playing for a good place in the sectionals.

But rather than heading up the seeding ladder, the Marauders took a tumble losing its final four to end the season at 11-10 to find themselves a 12th seed with an opening round game against its neighbors to the east, 5th seed Cambridge Rindge & Latin (16-4).

Belmont will be taking the MBTA’s number 75 bus – figuratively – to Cambridge on Tuesday, Feb. 25 for a 7 p.m. tipoff against the Falcons.

Defense will be the Marauders hallmark as it has been during the teams six year run in the playoffs. Starting with the guard play from junior Kiki Christofori and sophomore Sarah Dullagan, Belmont will attempt to create pressure against the opposing backcourt, attempting to minimize the Falcons noted athleticism. You can expect junior Abbie Morin and sophomores Bridgette Martin and Meredith Christo to coming in often to spark the defense.

Offensively, it will come down to Belmont’s sophomore Nina Minicozzi who has been a whirlwind down the stretch scoring in double digits and junior bomber Reese Shapazian who has been deadly throwing up threes. Expect the McDevitt sisters – junior Emma and sophomore Sophie – and junior Addie Wagner to contend under the basket on both ends of the court.

“I think we are a dangerous team to anyone in the tourney,” said Head Coach Melissa Hart. “We do need to clean up some things and we can be a little emotional when things go well or not so well. But I think this is a team that can advance.”

Top Seed Belmont Girls’ Hoops Tame Panthers In Playoff Opener, 61-35 [VIDEO]

Photo: All photos by David Flanagan.

Too strong, too tall, too talented.

Those were the attributes that top-seed Belmont High Girls’ Basketball demonstrated in its Division 1 North playoff opener against Beverly High School at the Coach Lyons’ Court on Thursday, Feb. 28 as the Marauders came away with a 61-35 victory. 

“The last two games [of the season] we stumbled a little bit compared to the rest of the season,” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart of losses to powerhouses Cathedral and Franklin high schools in the Comcast tournament. “So it was important to get our confidence up and back.” 

Despite a long layoff, the 20-2 Marauders came out read hot as sophomore forward Maiya Bergdorf scored eight of Belmont’s first 10 points as the home team took a 10-0 lead as the Marauders dominated the rebounding chances. 

Beverly would break into the scoring column off a 3 that banked high off the backboard by sophomore Kylie McCarthy, which sparked a 10-4 run for the Panthers cutting Belmont’s lead to 14-10 at the end of the first quarter. 

In response, Hart sent out her “tall” lineup of seniors center Jess Giorgio, forward Ella Gagnon, forward Jane Mahon, Bergdorf as a guard with freshman Nina Minicozzi playing the point. Playing a tight half-court zone, Belmont closed down the inside for Beverly and limited the Panthers to one change under the boards. Mahon hit three midrange baskets and Bergdorf (18 points in her first career playoff action) had an easy two under the basket from Minicozzi to up the Marauders advantage to 10, 22-12.

When Giorgio missed the backend of two free throws, Minicozzi (14 “quiet” points) grabbed the rebound and put the ball through the hoop to finish the 1-2 three-point play, Belmont was up 25-12 with 90 seconds left in the second quarter and would go into the half up 27-16.

The game was decided early in the third when Bergdorf hit a pair of driving hoops and Giorgio hit a shake-and-bake hook shot before taking in a pinpoint pass for an easy two to stretch the lead to 19, 35-16, two minutes into the game. Bergdorf would finish off her eight-point quarter with a steal and basket followed by a pass from senior guard Megan Tan as the Marauders outscored Beverly 20-8 in the third to lead 47-24 entering the fourth.

“I just went out there with the mentality we’re going to have a team win,” said Bergdorf.

Notable performances in the game were sophomore center Emma McDevitt who came off the bench for 10 points and stellar defense and sophomore Kiki Christofori who started and gave yet another prime example of dogged defending against Beverly’s backcourt.

Belmont is scheduled to meet Middlesex League rival Woburn on Monday, March 4 in Belmont at 7 p.m., pending further weather reports. The winner of Monday’s game will meet Andover in the D1N semifinals possibly on Wednesday, March 6; if Belmont wins, the game will be played in Belmont.

Belmont High Field Hockey Downs Concord Carlisle, 2-0, In Playoff’s First Round [VIDEO]

Photo: Senior co-captain Jordan Lettiere (left) scored both goals in Belmont’s victory over Concord.

Belmont High Field Hockey tallied early and late as the Marauders eased by Concord Carlisle Regional, 2-0, in first round action in the MIAA Division 1 North sectionals at Harris Field on Halloween.

Senior co-captain Jordan Lettiere scored the pair of goals as the 7th-seed Marauders’ defense and midfield dominated the run of the game as Belmont held advantages in shots, 19 to 4, and corners, nine to one, giving the 12th-ranked Patriots scant opportunities to even the score.

“I thought we played well,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Jessica Smith. “I think we used each other and passed well. We need to make those opportunities inside the [attack] circle into goals.” 

Playing inside forward, Lettiere netted her first on a backhand strike four minutes into the game – assisted by senior left forward Hana Power – then waited until the final 23 seconds to pocketed her second off a restart with the assist to junior center back Emma Donahue.

The victory sends the Marauders into the quarter-finals of the Division 1 North sectionals to battle it out against Masconomet Regional, ranked 2nd with a record of 16-1-2. The game is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 2 at 2:30 p.m. in far-off Boxford but the forecast calls for rain and thunderstorms throughout the day. The rain is particularly problematic for the teams as Masco’s home field is a grass pitch.

Masco defeated Reading, 3-0, Wednesday scoring its goals in the final 15 minuted of the first half. Belmont defeated the Rockets twice in Middlesex League play, 2-0 away and 3-1 at home.

In control for most of the game, Belmont used its speed and dribbling skill to bottle up the Patriots’ offense which relied on the long ball in an attempt to beat the Marauders’ press defense. When Concord entered the 25-meter mark from the Belmont goal, the Marauders’ backline – Donahue, senior Hayley Koenigsberg, and senior co-captain Mia Kaldenbough playing in front of senior goalie Molly Calkins – never gave the Concord forwards much room for an open shot on goal. 

Smith praised the play of junior sweeper/midfield Meaghan Noone, pointing to Noone’s breaking up a three-on-one Patriots breakaway with Belmont up by a goal.

“She came out of nowhere and was a superstar,” said Noone, noting her two-way play, several times taking an intercepted pass halfway down the field to spark the offense. 

“I had to get into the ‘zone’ … know who their best players were and step up,” said Noone. 

Belmont controlled the tricky left side of the pitch – which is difficult to play well as field hockey sticks are all “right-handed” – as junior midfield Kate Devitt and senior forward Hana Power found the pace to outrun defenders. 

Junior center midfield Katie Guden and her speedy compatriot Marissa Cecca caused fits for the Patriots as they used their quickness and stick skills to quickly transition the play to the offense. Up front, Belmont’s “go to” scoring duo – Lettiere (21 goals, 7 assists) and four-year starter co-captain Morgan Chase (14 goals, 9 assists) – generated many of shots in the game.

“I was hustling to the ball because I didn’t want our season to end,” said Lettiere. 

For Smith, the next match will be only the second time on grass this season for the Marauders. But she noted that Belmont has won in the postseason on “real” turf, recently vs. Danvers, and believes the slower surface will allow her forwards to catch up to the ball and provide more scoring opportunities. 

“The best players play best on the grass,” said Noone. 

“We’ll do fine,” added Lettiere.