Photo: Senior guards Ani Maroyan (4) and Sofia Cellucci (33) ran a positive offensive set when they were in the game vs. Lexington.
After taking one of the best Division 1 teams in the state (Woburn High) to the final second in its last game before falling by a single point, there were high hopes Belmont High Girls’ could take the measure of Lexington High – another Division 1 top-ten team – when they visited the Minutemen on Friday night, Jan. 8.
And the Marauders did just that … for the first quarter. Unfortunately, Belmont (4-2, 4-2) had another 24 minutes to watch Lexington (6-1, 6-0) and its Fordham-bound state all-star guard Anna Kelly toy with the Marauders as the Belmont girls were on the wrong end of a 62-43 pummeling. It wasn’t that close.
In the first quarter, Belmont behind the hot shooting from inside and outside from sophomore point guard Carly Christofori (hitting a dozen with a three-pointer and going 3-3 from the free throw line) was applying pressure on Minuteman’s defense. Christofori was assisted by her 10th-grade colleagues starting forward Jenny Call (5 of her 10 points in the first) and Greta Propp (5 points) who came off the bench to play a strong game on both ends of the court.
Lexington kept the game close by going over Belmont’s tight perimeter defense, hitting five threes (a pair each from Kelly and fellow senior guard Eleanor Van Arsdell) as opposed to a single 2-point bucket in the quarter.
A Christofori three-point play followed by another drive and bucket and finally a Propp put-back of an offensive rebound gave Belmont its largest lead at 20-13 with 1:25 left in the opening quarter.
That would be the Marauders’ high water mark as Belmont would be outscored and outclassed 49-23 for the rest of the game.
In the second quarter, Kelly (27 points including four threes and double digits in assists) used her quickness and court awareness to pressured Belmont’s defenders who appeared unnerved matched up against the three-year All-Scholastic guard who two years ago dropped 52 points against the Marauders, the third-highest points total by a girl in Massachusetts basketball history.
Surprisingly, Belmont’s defense would hold the Minutemen to 13 points (9 from Kelly) in the quarter. What doomed the Marauders was its inability or unwillingness to take a shot at the basket. At the end of eight minutes, the Marauders could only muster an estimated ten shots at their hoop, the majority wildly off the mark. Only a mid-range jumper from ever improving Freshman center Jess Giorgio prevented Belmont from putting up a goose egg for the quarter. When halftime finally came, Belmont was looking up from a nine-point hole, 31-22.
Belmont did come out of the break with a spark as Christofori followed up her rebound with a basket and when Call hit her second three of the night, the Marauders were within six points at 33-27.
That’s when Kelly put on a skills clinic on how to single handily beat a team into submission. Kelly ran head-on at the Belmont defense causing all sort of chaos and confusion in the Marauders end of the court. From there, Kelly would either coolly stop and hit long-distance threes or drive to the basket before dishing off pinpoint assists to teammates under the basket. Seven Minutemen scored in the quarter totaling 22 points and in less than three minutes it built its lead from seven to 20 (49-29) as a totally dispirited Belmont squad could only eek out four points from the free-throw line in the final six minutes.
The last quarter was reserved for the role players, some who shined on the court. Senior guard Ani Maroyan (8 points) was only too happy to show off her raindrop shot from distance scoring a pair of threes and with fellow senior Sofia Cellucci ran an efficient offensive set.
Belmont is traveling to Winchester on Tuesday, Jan. 12.