Sports: Boys’, Girls’ Hoops Push To Playoffs By Rocketing By Reading

Photo: Sophomore guard Daniel Yardemian scoring against Reading.

After a brief respite for midterms from Middlesex League play, Belmont High Basketball teams got back on the court Friday, Jan. 20, to continue their march towards the playoffs with dual victories over Reading Memorial High.

Boys batter Charlestown, out work a physical Rocket squad

Belmont Head Coach Adam Pritchard said when he looks to out-of-league games to play, he tries to schedule the toughest teams he can.

“I have to play the best to be the best,” he said targeting “city” teams the squad would be punching-up in games.

Earlier in the season, the Marauders took on Everett (83-67 loss) and New Bedford (55-52 win) before heading to Boston’s Cathedral High School for a match on Sunday, Jan. 15, against an 8-3 Charlestown team. In the pregame warm-ups, the Townies had three players demonstrating various dunk shots in front of a Belmont team that might have a single player who could slam the ball on the rare occasion.

But the BABC Winter Classic matchup proved to be a showcase for Belmont’s captain and senior center Paul Ramsey who scored 19 points in the first quarter, hitting five baskets and nine free throws in just eight minutes as Belmont took a 28-19 lead over the Division 1 powerhouse.

But equally as important was Ramsey play against Charlestown’s big men putting them in foul trouble and forcing them to sit for long stretches.

“[Ramsey] is a special player because he plays both ends of the court,” said Pritchard.

Ramsey stayed hot in the second with nine more points (of a game-high 34 points) followed by eight from junior forward Tomas Donoyan (19 points) and exciting sophomore Daniel Yardemian (12 points) with six as the Marauders built its lead to 15, 52-37, at the half.

Belmont bombed away with three 3s from Donoyan, senior Cal Christofori (4 points) and senior guard Nick Volante (3 points) while its swarming defense left Charlestown with only 12 points in the third quarter giving Belmont a big cushion of 22 points entering the fourth. 

“It was a satisfying win against a class team,” said Pritchard. 

Belmont came home on Friday and dealt a physical and tall Reading squad an 11 point loss, 71-60, in a tight game until the final four minutes of the fourth quarter.

Belmont relied on Christofori who scored 14 points that included several spinning drives and one long range 3 to give the Marauders an 11 point margin at the half. Belmont outscored Reading 9-1 in the final 2:17 of the second as senior guard Bryan Goodwin (3 points) drained an NBA-range 3 pointer and junior forward Will Ellet (7 points, 4 in the second) came off the bench to spark the offense.

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Reading came out for the third going to their big man, 6’4″ senior center Corey DiLoreto (who like Christofori plays football, hoops and baseball) who scored four of his 10 points in the third, which allowed guard junior guard Matt Panacopoulus (14 points) to slash to the basket, scoring twice and going to the free throw line twice going 4-4. Reading cut the lead to 2, 49-47, with 10.5 seconds remaining, which was 10.4 seconds enough for Yardemian to hit a 15 footer with no time on the clock. 

The rough and tumble game resulted in a confrontation for the ball midway through the quarter in which Chistofori and senior Joe Bradley got a bit too physical resulting in Bradley being assessed a technical foul.

Reading cut the lead to 2, 49-47, with 10.5 seconds remaining, which was 10.4 seconds enough for Yardemian to hit a 15 footer with no time on the clock. 

“We were playing one-on-one basketball which allowed [Reading] which is a very good team to come back,” said Pritchard. “But this team has shown they can regroup without panicking.”

The fourth quarter was a tightly fought affair until midway through when a Yardemian stop and pop, a Hamparian 3 pointer, one of two from the line by Ellet and a pair of free throws from Christofori basically put the game on ice, 64-57, with two minutes to go. 

“It’s great to have a sophomore [Yardemian] who can come off the bench as a point guard and wants to drive to the basket,” said Pritchard.

Next up for Belmont is a home game vs. Burlington on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 6 p.m.

Another game, another player steps up for Marauders as Girls’ push back Rockets

Someone should tell junior captain and all-star point guard Carly Christofori about the concept of  “bulletin-board material.”

It all started when the Belmont High Girls’ basketball team won a contest – the High School Hoops Challenge – to appear on a Boston radio station 103.3 AMP Radio. While there, which included Jenny Call beating the DJ (that would be “JD” the DJ) in a free-throw contest, Christofori was asked to predict the score of the upcoming match with Reading.

“170,000 to 3,” said Christofori.

“I thought, ‘Let’s hope Reading’s not listening,'” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart.

This edition of Reading is nothing like the team Belmont met two years ago when the Marauders nearly shut out the Rockets, allowing a single three-pointer to lead 23-3 at the half and then stretching it to 37-3 advantage midway through the third quarter in the 2015 game.

This season Reading found a shooter in sophomore forward Haley Lightbody and plays a very physical game on both ends of the court, bringing in a 5-3 record as it hosted Belmont Friday.

Belmont ran off to a slim 17-15 lead after one quarter before Lightbody (with a game high 18 points) started scoring as it looked that Reading would take a three point lead into the half before junior forward Greta Propp scored to keep the game within one.

It was Propp on the inside (who finished with a team-high 14 points) and sophomore center Jess Giorgio (12 points and numerous rebounds) dominating the key that brought back Belmont to retake the lead by four points entering the fourth, 43-39, before pulling away through Christofori going to the free throw line, winning by 11, 56-45.

Propp’s breakout performance – after having been sick for a few weeks – was the second time in two games in which player came off the bench to top the team in scoring; senior guard Riley Haight scored a game-high 13 (including a trio of 3s) in Belmont’s doubling up of Winchester, 68-34, last Friday.

Belmont will be away at Burlington on Tuesday before come home for a homecoming Friday night against 9-1 Wakefield.

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