Photo: Belmont point guard Danny Yardemian.
Belmont High Boys’ Basketball’s Head Coach Adam Pritchard had one piece of advice to his team in their playoff opener against Chelsea on Wednesday, March 1.
“Everything is fast tonight,” Pritchard told the team early in the first quarter.
A simple enough request, but it would be the core of Belmont’s impressive 70-51 victory over the Red Devils of the first round of the Division 2 North sectional tourney.
The win advances the sixth-ranked Marauders (16-5) to a quarterfinals meeting with the third-seed Lynn Classical (18-3) on Saturday, March 4 at 2 p.m. in Lynn.
Wednesday’s game saw Belmont supply defensive pressure creating too many problems for the entertaining but sloppy Red Devils is it brought the ball upcourt. The Marauders put the accelerator on the offensive end allowing for fast break opportunities and open shots.
Leading Belmont was sophomore point guard Danny Yardemian who ran the offense while punishing Chelsea’s loose defense to sneak through for one of several clean breaks to the basket. He would finish with a team-high 19 points.
Just seconds after winning the tip off, Yardemian nailed a 3 and Belmont would never lose the lead. They upped the advantage to 10-2 with a putback from junior forward Tomas Donoyan (8 points) which forced a timeout by Chelsea’s coach Judah Jackson just two-and-a-half minutes in.
While Chelsea did pull back within three twice, the final time at 16-13 behind the Red Devils’ dynamic guard/forward Franklin Cruz (with a game high 20 points), Belmont senior guard Bryan Goodwin buried a three to double the lead to six at 19-13 with a minute remaining in the first.
Taking an eight-point lead into the second, 23-15, Belmont showed its range on offense with senior Daron Hamparian sinking a pair of 3s – two of five 3s he drilled as he ended with 17 points – the second with a minute to go in the second to give Belmont a 16 point edge, 37-21.
But Chelsea scored three hoops in the final minute, using its superior height inside and the great first step of Cruz to whittle the lead at the half to 37-27.
And the Red Devils would stay close in the third, but Belmont was out-hustling their opponents. When the Marauders needed to stop a mini-run by the Red Devils, senior captain and center Paul Ramsey – who was named a Middlesex League all-star this week – came up big, freeing himself under the basket for three buckets and a free throw for 7 of his 17 points.
The Marauders’ finished the quarter with a play that typified the game as reserve forward senior Noah Riley (2 points) outrebounded two Chelsea players on the offensive boards then bulleted a pass to senior Cal Christofori (4 points) for the layup and a 56-45 point lead.
The fourth quarter saw both teams revert to more standard half court games without the manic-style defense from the previous 24 minutes. Belmont would slowly inch ahead until the margin hit 20 points, 67-47, late in the game.
Hamparian said the win “shows just how much potential this team has and well we can do when we play as a team.” He said despite coming in with a height deficit, “we show a lot of heart to do this well especially winning rebounds.”
What can fans expect from the Marauders at the Saturday matinee against Lynn Classical?
“Running, running and more running,” he said.