Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for the Belmont High School Boys’ Basketball team, there was senior center Adam Kleckner sitting in street clothes at the end of the bench during the Marauders’ game with host Lexington High on Tuesday night, Jan. 14.
Last year’s co-Player of the Year in the Middlesex League who has been dominating the boards and scoring this season, Kleckner arrived to the game on crutches, the result of “a serious ankle sprain” that he suffered at practice the day before, said Belmont Head Coach Adam Pritchard.
The loss of the dominate center in the league for “the next few weeks” comes as the Marauders had traveled through a hideous patch of games, going 1-4 including last-minute losses to Woburn on Friday and Saturday to a winless Somerville High squad in the feature match held at the TD Bank Garden in Boston.
“It’s adversity that you have to accept,” said Pritchard, noting that during this season the team has lost to injury three of their four captains; Kleckner, starting shooting guard junior Matt Kerans and senior guard Tom Martin.
It appears fourth captain, senior point guard Ben Lazenby, should be outfitted with a rabbit’s foot.
Despite Kleckner’s loss, the Marauders’ was able to press the 1-7 Minutemen – which saw a potentially playoff run go to the wayside when brothers Tom and Harry O’Neil were recruited to play at St. John’s Prep – and score a series of three point buckets to walk away with a much needed, 65-58, victory.
“We just wanted to put down our heads and play fast and tough. Sometimes if you just give maximum effort and just do what you’re capable of, things work out. The team was great tonight,” said Pritchard.
While at times looking like a pick-up game at the local Y with a lot of running around but no scoring, Belmont relied on the inside play of now-starting junior center Justin Wagner and stellar work by senior guard Jaemar Paul and Luke Peterson which included yet another monster rejection from the junior forward.
Belmont kept seeing its lead yo-yo-ing between 10 and 4 points throughout the game, up by four at the half (29-25), then by 11 midway through the third, then back down to four points again (49-45) with six minutes to play in the game.
But that was as close as the Minutemen would come as Martin hit a three, Belmont stole the ball and senior forward Seth Altman hit one of two to increase the lead (53-45).
Lexington did stick around to within five points (57-52) but Lazenby was fouled on his successful layup for three more, a return to the line for two more and Kerans’ long-distance three pointer was the coup de grâce (65-55) with just under two minutes to play.
Belmont will need this same drive and effort on Friday, Jan. 16, as they play a surging Winchester team (6-4, 4-4 in the league) with 6’4″ center Michael Grassey who is scoring 24 points a game.