Photo: Senior Samari Winklaar at the free-throw line vs. Wilmington.
Belmont High Girls Basketball senior forward Samari Winklaar is not just a double threat; a defensive stalwart and one of the toughest forwards on the court. She is a triple talent: this young lady can sing!
Those in the stands during the opening announcements heard Winklaar give a soulful, emotional rendition of the National Anthem that would have knocked your socks off if you weren’t wearing shoes.
Winklaar then joined her fellow starters onto the court and played a big role in Belmont’s victory at its home opener, defeating Wilmington High School Wildcats, 54-42, on Monday, Dec. 21 at the “Wenner.”
Winklaar’s 13 points including a pair of baskets in the third quarter allowed the Marauders keep a double-digit lead through the second half for its first game in which Belmont did not see an offensive dip that occurred in the first two games. Its point production – 13, 15, 14 and 12 in each subsequent quarter – allowed Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart to include many players from her large bench which reach 17.
The Wilmington game also was the return of last season’s suffocating full-court defense that Belmont used to great effect in 2015’s playoff run. The result of the night’s pressure was that Wilmington did not have a player in double figures in points.
For the third consecutive game, sophomore point guard Carly Christofori quarterbacked the offense with her passing and her signature slashing move towards the basket resulting in 16 points. Her final six points – all in the final eight minutes – came from the free throw line, reminiscent of Christofori’s performance in last year’s sectional quarterfinals against Bedford.
Overall, Belmont went 19 for 23 from the charity stripe, an atypical result from a team that has at times struggled from the line.
Working hard at both ends of the court included senior co-captain forward/center Sarah Stewart with 9 points (7 in the first half) while matched up with Wilmington’s taller centers and freshman Megan Tan who took on the quickest Wildcat guards while contributing four points.
Due to fouls on the starters, Hart gave Belmont fans a glimpse of the future as she sent out Marauders tallest players, junior Margaux d’Arbeloff (6′) and freshman Jess Giorgio (6’1″).