Photo: Jenny Call (21) and Carly Christofori (12) turn on the ball during Belmont’s game with Woburn.
They weren’t games you’d write home about but two wins are two wins as both Belmont basketball teams took the measure of Woburn in a pair of important early-season contests.
Bench Comes Up Big In Belmont Girls’ Come-From-Behind Win
Jane Mahon wasn’t sure she’d be playing in Tuesday’s game against Middlesex League rival Woburn. The junior forward and the Marauders’ “sixth man” was ill with the stomach flu on Monday and didn’t practice.
“I’m not sure if I’m playing. I was really sick,” Mahon told the Belmontonian before the game.
It’s a good thing for Belmont that Mahon, junior center Ella Gagnon and freshman Maiya Bergdorf all came off the bench as the trio of non-starters sparked a second-half surge resulting in the Marauders taking the measure of the unbeaten Tanners, 43-38, at Belmont’s Wenner Fieldhouse.
“It wasn’t pretty but it was a win that showed a lot of grit from the team,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Melissa Hart who saw her team go to 5-1. Woburn is now 4-1.
After an even first quarter, 12-11 in Belmont’s favor, Woburn took advantage of Belmont’s team foul deficit – at one point the Marauders had been whistled for 7 fouls against a single infraction for the Tanners – to go perfect (6 for 6, four from junior Julia Taylor) from the charity stripe while Woburn’s leader Andrea Schiavone (11 points) hit a 3 and a layup to propel the visitors to a 24-19 lead into the half.
Trailing midway through the third quarter, Belmont’s comeback began with a Bergdorf three-pointer – the first of two 3s on the night – followed by a pair of mid-range jumpers from Mahon which cut an eight-point deficit to one, 28-27, with a minute and a half remaining.
“Woburn was very aggressive and always on us very tight. So when a teammate was driving to the basket I was always there to take a pass and that allowed me to have open shots,” said Mahon, who finished with 7 points, a block and a steal.
Mahon has been contributing on both ends of the court, said Hart, “with the intensity and work ethic she brings.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Bergdorf hit her second 3 with 6 minutes remaining in the fourth to give the Marauders the lead for good at 31-30, followed by a drive to the basket to increase the lead to 35-32. Belmont was up by five points as junior 2-guard Meghan Tan (5 points who played the entire 32 minutes for the second consecutive game) hit a layup with one second on the shot clock to make the score 37-33 with 1:50 left in the game.
Bergdorf finished the night hitting two clutch free throws – Belmont was a less than stellar, 8-17, from the line – in the final minute to seal the victory and give her a game-high 12 points.
“I just wanted to go out there, just give it my all and prove that I can play with [my teammates],” said Bergdorf.
Hart said Bergdorf has been able to feel comfortable on the team due to the support of the juniors and seniors such as captains Jenny Call (3 points), Greta Propp (6 points) and captain Carly Christofori (8 points).
“She brings a skill set that is pretty special,” said Hart.
While not in the scorebook, Hart praised Gagnon’s overall physicality in relief of junior center Jess Giorgio (2 points), clogging the passing lanes and being a presence under the basket.
“[Gagnon] was awesome tonight. She was a real difference maker tonight on defense,” said Hart, noting the team held a good attack offense to six points in the third and eight in the fourth quarters.
Six games into the season, Hart said she “likes where we are going, heartened by the fact that we haven’t played our best yet. Woburn will be tough when we go there (in February) but I expect us to be sharper by then.”
Boys’ edge Woburn
Just how poorly was Belmont High’s Boys’ basketball team was playing defense in the first half against host Woburn on Tuesday, Jan. 2? Head Coach Adam Pritchard gave up yelling at his squad.
“I ended the game with my voice intact,” said Pritchard, who said in the first quarter, the team “couldn’t guard a tree” giving up 24 points and trailing by 9.
In the second, the Marauders “were slightly better shooting” scoring 21 points while holding the suddenly cooled down Tanners to 15 to creep back into the game by the half, trailing 39-36. All-star shooting guard Danny Yardemian (a team-high 22 points) led the Marauders with 7 in each of the opening two stanzas.
After intermission, Belmont seemingly abandoned anything within the three-point arc and like Steph Curry, shot lights out from distance, knocking down six treys and nothing else, propelling them into the lead after three, 54-48, with sophomore point guard Mac Annus (15 points) and senior forward Will Ellet (16 points) each burying a pair.
Woburn attempted to steal the lead back but senior forward Jake Pollock (6 points) stepped up defensively by taking a pair of charges that gave Belmont possession during critical times in the quarter to give Belmont the win, 69-67, with the Marauders ending the game with 11 3s. Belmont and Woburn are 4-2, second in the Middlesex Liberty Division trailing only Arlington.
“We beat a very good team and these are the type of games that we just battle back to win,” said Pritchard.