Photo: ”We are the champions!” Belmont’s 8th Grade hoopsters (Back row from left) Leah Attridge, Emma Kass, Sophia McClendon, Sam Ryan, Amy Saukkonen. (Front row from left) Erin Attridge, Grace Grant, Sophie Tournet, Sophia Pang.
It took three nail biters for Belmont’s 8th Grade Maroon basketball team to take the Metrowest League Division 2 tournament, capturing the crown with a come-from-behind victory vs. Wellesley, 48-45, in the finals.
Trailing 44-38 with three minutes remaining in the championship game against a 13-1 opponent, Belmont’s defense shut down Wellesley finishing the game on a 10-to-1 run as Belmont got hot from deep in the second half with Sophia Pang, Amy Saukkonen and Sophie Tournet hitting multiple threes from downtown.
Saukkonen set the tone early for Belmont with her lockdown defense, as Sophia McClendon, Samantha Ryan and Grace Grant controlled the glass. Great passing and unselfish play from the entire team led to many open shots. Leading scorers were Pang with 17, Tournet,11, with McClendon and Saukkonen finnished with nine each.
Belmont ended the season with a 15-6 record.
“This team always plays unselfish, intelligent and hard. They stay positive even when things aren’t going well. This is a guaranteed recipe for success,” said Jason Tournet, who along with Bernie Ryan and Mike Grant coached the girls.
Belmont defeated Hopkington in the first round, 61-58, with Ryan, Pang, McClendon and Tournet scoring in double figures. Erin and Leah Attridge hit clutch jump shots and Ryan nailed a 3 to give Belmont the lead late in the 3rd quarter. Grant grabbed multiple key rebounds and Pang and Tournet combined for 14 in the 4th quarter to help hold off a late Hopkington charge.
Belmont won a tightly-fought semifinal, 44-40, against a 14-2 Rochester squad. McClendon dominated from the tip, finishing with 24 points and several blocked shots. Pang chipped in with 14 and the Belmont team defense did a great job in the second half with Emma Kass excellent under the basket, helping to overcome a tall Rochester front line.
In the past four years, the team racked up a 12-1 playoff record while winning a pair of Metro crowns all the while having a great experience playing basketball together. The team would like to thank Belmont Youth Basketball Association for all of its support, particularly during the Covid pandemic.