In a season-deflating collapse, Belmont High School Boys’ Basketball team failed to score in the final two-and-a-half minutes in its matchup with host Woburn High, allowing the Tanners to run off nine points, including a steal and basket in the final 23 seconds to founder to a 54-53 loss on Friday, Jan. 9.
“I don’t know what to say. I don’t have a sound bite to give you,” said Adam Pritchard, Belmont’s head coach after the game.
The loss send Belmont to a 5-3 record and 4-2 in the Middlesex League, two games behind undefeated Arlington (7-0, 6-0 in the league) and a game behind Woburn (5-4) which is 5-1 in the league .
The defeat spoiled the return of starting junior shooting guard Matt Kerans thought to be lost to the team until late January after he was injured in a win over Cathedral High School over the winter recess. Since losing Kerans in December – who with senior center Adam Kleckner are the Marauders’ top scorers – Belmont is 1-3.
It was with 1:55 remaining in the first quarter when Kerans entered the game, pairing him with his long-time backcourt partner, Ben Lazenby (7 points). While rusty in his passing, Kerans (9 points) hit his first shot, a long-distance three point basket – the first of three threes in the game – to give the Marauders a 18-14 lead a minute into the second quarter.
While the Marauders’ took the game to the Tanners, leading 15-10 after the first quarter and 26-20 at the half, the only consistent scoring threat for Belmont was Kleckner, who finished with 17 points and double digits in rebounds. In the four quarters, only junior forward Justin Wagner (8 points) and senior co-captain Tim Martin (5 points including a three) scored more than one basket in any one quarter while no other Belmont player scored in double figures.
Led by Kleckner’s scoring and Wagner’s defense – including two blocks and grabbing several rebounds – Belmont took its biggest lead with Martin’s three upping the Marauders’ lead to 10 at 37-27 with 2:48 left in the quarter.
But a three point shot by Deion Williams (who finished with 16 points) followed by a three from Jimmy McRae quickly cut the lead to five at the end of three (40-35).
Despite running at Woburn, Belmont saw its lead shrivel to one at 43-42 with six minutes to play. But a Kleckner driving layup, a Kerans steal, a three point shot from Lazenby and then by Kerans (from more than 18 feet from the basket) and finally a Wagner easy put-in after Kleckner dove and stripped the ball away from a Tanner player saw the Marauders lead grow to eight with 150 seconds left.
But that was enough time for Woburn to use the time to apply double teams up and down the court and win the ball as the game got a bit chippy with Wagner ripping out the ball from McRae sending Woburn senior Matt Catizone (8 points) to the court with a thump.
A two point jumper, another three from Williams, a Belmont turnover and a bucket by Woburn reduced the lead to a single point with 40 second remaining. Pressure on Belmont resulted in the turnover to the Tanners and guard Daniel Muscot (who scored 10 of his 12 points in the final stanza) buried the layup with 23 seconds to play.
A quick miss by Belmont forced the team to foul Woburn three times in the backcourt – Woburn had only collected four fouls that point in the game – wasting valuable seconds on the clock. Catizone missed the one-and-one free throw with less than six seconds to play but Lazenby’s shot from the top of the key at the buzzer hit high off the backboard.
“We need to play smarter and better in this league to win,” said Pritchard.