Photo: Belmont High’s sophomore Cortney Howell in action against the Reading Rockets
Belmont High Girls’ Basketball Head Coach Shantell Jeter could only shrug when asked about her team’s what has become all to familar start to a game. After scoring the first basket via senior captain Sophie McDevitt, the Marauders were bombarded by a young Reading High squad with three threes and a long two to find themselves down, 11-2, after two minutes.
“We often have slower starts,” said Jeter who is in her first year at the helm of the Marauders. “We’ve been talking about the importance of having faster starts” noting that the team needed more possession “and go harder at the other team.”
That “being harder” is exactly what the Marauders did for the remainder of the game, holding the Rockets (4-3) to a total of six points over the middle two quarters while making enough of a scoring run to come off the court with a 52-42 victory, pushing up its record to 7-2. Belmont’s two losses were to undefeated Winchester and top-ten Newton North (7-1)
”Everyone contributed today. Everyone was hustling. We had people diving on the floor which is what we love,” said Jeter. “We had the girls getting in there wrapping up the ball every time someone held it.”
After an early timeout, the Marauders start to right the ship with a hard nose, man-to-man defense – demonstrated by a monster block by sophomore Cortney Howell of an attempted three – that cut the lead to 18-11 at the end of the first quarter.
For the next two quarters, Belmont’s team defense was the star, as it bodied up to the Rocket players, winning nearly every defensive rebounding opportunity – thanks to Howell, sophomore Symone Jackson and junior Julia Herlihy – and just frustrating each offensive venture Reading had Friday.
“They’re playing better defense together every time,” Jeter said.
The defensive stand was needed as Belmont continues to make questionable shot selections for long portions of the game. While keeping the Rockets to six points, the Marauders scored 23 in the middle quarters (leading 23-21 at the half and 34-24 after three), led by sophomore Linda Sheng with eight and first year Sophia McClandon at five.
The final eight minutes turned into a grinding affair with every Reading scoring run answered by the Marauders including a killer 3 from McClandon – who tied Sheng with 9 points to lead the Marauders in the game – at the 5:36 mark to give Belmont a 10 point lead, 38-28. Junior Mia Ferrari buried six consecutive from the charity stripe, scoring six of the final eight points to finish off the game.
Next up for the Marauders will be at 6-1 Wakefield away on Tuesday and away at winless Arlington Friday.