Photo: Belmont freshman point guard “Kiki” Christofori driving vs. Watertown.
The Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team is playoff bound after defeating its arch rivals, Watertown High, 67-24, on Friday, Jan. 26 at the Wenner Field House.
Belmont (11-1) reached the 10-win postseason benchmark in its 11th game, the quickest the program has clinched a spot in the North Sectionals.
After a hard-fought, 69-49, victory over hosts Lexington in a rare Sunday afternoon matinee on Jan. 28, Belmont will play its toughest stretch this season as it meets a pair of one-loss teams in two critical away contests.
The Marauders meet 11-1 Wakefield on Tuesday, Jan. 30. The Warriors lost its first game of the season on Friday to Woburn by two points, 59-57. On Friday, Feb. 2, the Marauders travel to Woburn to take on the 9-1 Tanners, which Belmont came back from eight points down in the third quarter to defeat back on Jan. 2.
“It’s a big week,” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart. “Playing really good teams will help us prepare for the playoffs.”
In the three games previous, Hart’s team cruised by a two-loss Melrose, 57-43, as junior guard Megan Tan led the Marauders with 12 points, 4 steals and 5 rebounds.
The warm-up to this week’s games was against teams which have been the true nemesis of the Marauders up until 2016. Watertown dumped Belmont from the playoffs in consecutive years, first in the semifinals (2015) and then the finals (2016) of the Division 2 North Sectionals. And over four years from 2013 to 2016, Belmont was 2-6 against a Lexington team with star guard Anna Kelly (who is currently enrolled at the University of Central Florida) who once scored 52 points against the Marauders.
But this year, Watertown is in a rebuilding period and Lexington can’t mesh together its good players for a complete game. Against the Raiders, a season-high 11 Marauders scored and 15 had time on the court as Belmont’s defense blanked Watertown in the third quarter. Freshmen Maiya Bergdorf led all scorers with 19 points while junior center Jess Giorgio scored her 10 points in the first six minutes of the game while pulling down 6 rebounds. Senior Ally Shapazian threw up a three and hit two from the charity stripe, juniors Breath Healey and Alex Keefe each drained threes while junior Audrey Christo knocked in a two. Watertown senior Callie McMahon’s 14 points accounted for more than half of her team’s total.
While Lexington came into the game at 3-8, its outside three-point shooting kept the game close. Down 21-13 in the second quarter, the Minutemen went on an 11-4 run before senior all-star guard Carly Christofori last-second driving bucket gave Belmont a 27-24 lead entering the second half.
In the third quarter, the Marauders relied on its veteran backcourt pairing of co-captain Christofori and junior Meghan Tan both on offense (both scoring 7 points in the frame with senior co-captains Greta Propp and Jenny Call contributing) and defense as Belmont held Lexington to 10 points to stretch its lead to 49-34 at the end of the eight minutes.
“That is a team who played better than their record,” said Hart of the Minutemen. “They scored on the shots we gave them in the first half. Can’t do that against better opponents.”