Three Belmont Teams In Middlesex League Tournaments Starting Wednesday

Photo: Belmont teams are participating in a first-ever Middlesex League championship tournament.

The regular season might be over but three Belmont teams will be playing on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of a first ever Middlesex League championship tournament.

Boys’ Hockey and Girls’ Hockey and Basketball are playing in this impromptu playoff as the Middlesex League is following the examples of other athletic conferences by adding a tournament in place of the MIAA interscholastic championships which have been suspended for the school year.

Wednesday’s schedule includes:

  • Third seed Boy’s Hockey will play host to Wakefield at noon, Wednesday at John A. Ryan Area in Watertown. You can catch the game on cable – Ch. 96 Comcast or Ch. 30 Verizon – or on the web at
  • Girls’ Basketball, the fourth ranked team will play long time rivals Watertown at 2:30 p.m. While Belmont is the home team, the game will be played at Watertown High School. Watch the game on Ch. 96 Comcast or Ch. 30 Verizon or at
  • Finally, fourth seed Girls’ Hockey takes on Winchester at 7 p.m. at the Burlington Ice Palace. You can see the game on Ch. 96 Comcast or Ch. 30 Verizon and on the web at

Girls Hoops Taking the ’75’ Tuesday, Feb 25, To Cambridge For Tourney Opener Vs R&L

Photo: Belmont’s Nina Minicozzi rounding the pick from Emma McDevitt during a game at the TD Boston Garden vs Pembroke.

After coming off a decisive away victory over Arlington on Feb. 7, the Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team was on a high note. At 11-6, the Marauders had secured a place in the MIAA Division 1 North tournament during a five game winning streak, had dominated fellow playoff squad in the SpyPonders – as well as revenging a home loss to Arlington – and was now playing for a good place in the sectionals.

But rather than heading up the seeding ladder, the Marauders took a tumble losing its final four to end the season at 11-10 to find themselves a 12th seed with an opening round game against its neighbors to the east, 5th seed Cambridge Rindge & Latin (16-4).

Belmont will be taking the MBTA’s number 75 bus – figuratively – to Cambridge on Tuesday, Feb. 25 for a 7 p.m. tipoff against the Falcons.

Defense will be the Marauders hallmark as it has been during the teams six year run in the playoffs. Starting with the guard play from junior Kiki Christofori and sophomore Sarah Dullagan, Belmont will attempt to create pressure against the opposing backcourt, attempting to minimize the Falcons noted athleticism. You can expect junior Abbie Morin and sophomores Bridgette Martin and Meredith Christo to coming in often to spark the defense.

Offensively, it will come down to Belmont’s sophomore Nina Minicozzi who has been a whirlwind down the stretch scoring in double digits and junior bomber Reese Shapazian who has been deadly throwing up threes. Expect the McDevitt sisters – junior Emma and sophomore Sophie – and junior Addie Wagner to contend under the basket on both ends of the court.

“I think we are a dangerous team to anyone in the tourney,” said Head Coach Melissa Hart. “We do need to clean up some things and we can be a little emotional when things go well or not so well. But I think this is a team that can advance.”

Belmont Girls’ Hoops Streak Into Playoffs; Revenge Loss To SpyPonders For 11th Win

Photo: Belmont’s Sarah Dullaghan with the layup against Reading, part of the five game winning streak the Marauders continued with its win over Arlington.

You could hear the laughter and cheering of the Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team as the bus entered the high school parking lot Friday night, Feb. 7.

And why not? The Marauders, which punched its ticket into the Div. 2 North Sectional tournament earlier in the week with its away victory over Wakefield, arrived back from a statement victory over playoff bound Arlington, 58-43, securing its 11th win and fifth in a row.

“We played the best half of the season,” said junior guard Kiki Christofori getting off the bus after avenging a four point loss in January to the SpyPonders.

The win puts Belmont (11-5) securely in second place in the Middlesex Liberty, a game clear of Lexington and Arlington, with two games remaining in the regular season.

Entering the second half a point down to the SpyPonders, 28-27, Belmont’s Head Coach Melissa Hart decided to up the defensive pressure on Arlington’s big scoring threats, juniors Claire Ewen and Ava Connolly by inserting a pair of youngsters in the line up; sophomore Meredith Christo and first year Sophie McDevitt.

And despite the efforts by Arlington to get their scorers the ball, “those two just really did a great job,” said Hart, also pointing to the effort by another sophomore Sarah Dullaghan, Christofori and junior Abby Morin as Ewen and Connolly finished the half with just 9 points.

On the other end of the court, sophomore Nina Minicozzi equaled her first half total of 7 points in the third alone before leading the Marauder charge in the fourth with nine for 23 points for the game as Belmont doubled up the SpyPonders 31-15 in the half.

Junior Reese Shapazian, who threw in three 3s in the second quarter to keep the Marauders close, finished with 10 while Christofori finished with eight as did McDevitt.

“We are playing our best at the right time,” said Hart, acknowledging that the team finishes up with home games against Burlington (12-5) and Woburn (15-1, ranked 14th in the Boston Globe Top 20) which beat Belmont by 11 earlier in the season.

“Burlington is very good and have three kids that are just long athletes so it’s gonna be a struggle,” said Hart.

Belmont Girls Hoops Grind By Watertown, Reading As Playoff Berth A Win Away

Photo: Kiki being Kiki: Belmont’s Christofori playing her game.

Belmont High Girls’ Basketball secured a vital pair of home victories putting them a game away from securing a return trip to the Division 2 North sectional playoffs.

But the wins over arch rival Watertown and always tough Reading were throughly grind-them-out affairs in which the Marauders found a fourth quarter savior who secured the victories.

Against the Raiders on Tuesday, Jan. 28, sophomore Nina Minicozzi came off a four point first half to score 14 in the second – nine of those in the fourth – to give the Marauders the needed offensive punch to pull away from their cross border challengers, 54-34.

After falling behind 7-6 after the first quarter, Belmont’s Sophie McDevitt put the team on her shoulders as the first year became a target down low for her team mates cutting in the lane, scoring three hoops from in close. And given the chance, the sister of Belmont’s starting center Emma McDevitt buried a three as she hit for 10 of her career high 14 in the second quarter to give the Marauders a 23-14 lead at the half.

Belmont welcomed Reading to the Wenner Field House for a Friday night tussle that saw a pair of big quarters for both teams. After a close first quarter (15-11 Belmont), the Marauders pulled ahead 23-16 with three minutes remaining. That’s when the Rockets took off going on a 10-1 run behind sophomore guard Jackie Malley who knocked down six-for-six from the charity stripe to go along with a 3-pointer to give Reading the half time lead, 26-24.

The third quarter resembled an alley brawl as both team’s defenses were physical and uncompromising to anyone attempting a shot within 10 feet of the basket. Two free throws from junior Kiki Christofori (tied with Malley for game high 15 points) with 35 seconds remaining closed the gap to one, 36-35, only for Reading to hit a three and a follow up with zilch on the clock to give them their biggest lead of the game, 41-35, entering the final eight minutes.

The fourth was Belmont’s as its pressure defense shut down the Rockets. Reese Shapazian’s NBA-distance 3 with six minutes remaining gave Belmont the lead, 42-41, and her second trey – a buzzer beater from a wild rebound from Minicozzi upped the lead to six, 48-42, with four-and-a-half left on the clock.

It was a wild last minute as Belmont saw its 51-44 lead to a single possession, 54-51 with 10 seconds remaining when sophomore Sarah Dullaghan (five points including a behind the head layup and a three pointer) the smallest Marauder, blocked a desperation three to effectively end the game.

Belmont will take on streaky Wakefield (7-9 but with victories over Burlington, Wilmington and Arlington) as they begin the final two weeks of league play.

After Garden Party, Belmont Girls’ Hoops Sprint For Tourney Spot

Photo: Belmont Girls at the garden.

After a once-in-a-lifetime trip to play on the parquet of TD Boston Garden early Saturday morning, the Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team gets back to the grind of securing a spot defeating arch-rival Watertown, 54-34, on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

With eight wins, the team needs to secure two wins in its final five games of the regular season and could reach that mark in the next week as they’ll be matched up against a team they have previously defeated and one of the streakiest squads in the Middlesex League.

Belmont’s Nina Minicozzi (14) vs Watertown.

The Marauders will take on Reading (6-7) on Friday, Jan. 31 – Belmont defeated the Rockets by 10 earlier in the season before they head off to Wakefield (6-8) which has beaten some of the best teams in the league before losing to some of the weakest squads.

Belmont broke a two game losing streak defeating Winchester, 61-49, on Friday night, Jan. 24 then finding themselves with a 9:30 a.m. tip-off against last year’s Division 2 South champions Pembroke.

The game – which was an MIAA endowment game – will not count against the teams record when it come to seeding or making the tournament. It was a chance for both teams to spend out their bench players who played the entire second quarter. In the end, the Patriots took home a 56-40 victory which was closer then the score indicated.

After starting off the season with a 6-2 record, Belmont played a string of games in which teams began focusing their defenses around stopping Belmont leading and most consistent scorer, sophomore guard Nina Minicozzi.

With junior center Emma McDevitt out of the lineup due to a twisted ankle and the team missing three starters from last year’s North finals squad – two graduating and playing for 19-0 Bowdoin and another recruited away – Minicozzi finds herself facing a double team or physical man-to-man situation resulting on the second year starter prone on the court.

Belmont was back home Tuesday at the Coach Lyons’ Court against the Raiders in a game which took a quarter just to get started. By the end of the first quarter, both teams struggled to score less than one point per minute with the Raiders leading, 7-6.

Watertown, behind sophomore forward Taylor Lambo’s low post shooting, upped its advantage to 14-10 midway through the second quarter before Belmont found an unexpected source for its scoring woes as first year Sophie McDevitt. The forward scored 10 of her career high 14 points taking passes from diving guards for uncontested layups while knocking down a three when given the time and space. Behind McDevitt, Belmont ended the half on a 13-0 run to lead by nine, 23-14, at intermission.

The game was notable as Belmont played an aggressive press defense, constantly doubling the ball and coming up with a slew of turnovers that allowed Belmont to pad its advantage to 37-20 entering the final eight minutes.

With a bit more space on the floor, Minicozzi was able to drive to the basket and also hit a three in the final quarter to finish with a game high 18 points.

BYBA, Marauder BBall Appreciation Night Tuesday; Girls Back To The Garden Saturday

Photo: The girls at center court at the TD Boston Garden.

Belmont will celebrate its basketball community on Tuesday, Jan. 21 as the Belmont High vs. Lexington High Girls’ Hoops game will be Belmont Youth Basketball Association and Marauder Basketball Appreciation Night at the Wenner Field House. The varsity game starts at 6:30 p.m.

There will be FREE admission for all players wearing BYBA or Marauder Basketball gear. During halftime of the girls’ varsity game, a Team Spirit Showdown where teams and individuals will come on center court to show their basketball spirit.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, the Belmont High School Girls’ Basketball team returns to the Boston TD Garden to take on Pembroke High in the Andrew James Lawson Foundation Invitational. This is the third time the girls have played at the Garden in the past five years, defeating Chelmsford and Arlington in their past two visits.

Tip off is at 9:30 a.m.

BYBA and Marauders Basketball players who interested in playing at halftime of the Belmont High Girls Varsity game at the TD Boston Garden on Saturday should let their BYBA coaches know and/or sign up here:

Tickets for the “Garden” party is $20 for general admission to games all day  (re-entry permitted). If you cannot attend but would like to support the girls basketball efforts, you can purchase tickets to donate.

You can support by buying tickets from Belmont Girls Basketball in the following ways and coming to cheer them on:

Checks should be made out to “Marauder Basketball Association” and sent to Attn: Girls Basketball, Coach Melissa Hart, Athletic Department, Belmont High School, 221 Concord Ave., Belmont, MA

Thank you for supporting our Belmont girls team! Hope to see you there!For further questions or help getting tickets please email:

Back To The Finals: Team Victory As Belmont Girls Hoops Stifles Andover In Sectional Semis

Photo: All photos by David Flanagan.

The Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team conducted a masterclass in winning as a team as the Marauders’ used a smothering defense and “step up” offense to defeat a strong and talented Andover High squad, 51-44, in the MIAA Division 1 North semifinals,

“That was a big time team victory,” said Melissa Hart, Belmont’s head coach now in her 9th year at the helm of the program.

The Marauders have now punched its ticket for a return trip to the Sectional finals for a rematch with last year’s opponent, Central Catholic, at the Tsongas Center in Lowell. The finals will be held on Saturday, March 9, at 6 p.m. 

The team win was to Jess Giorgio, the team’s senior leader, the columination of a season worth of hard work.

“I’m really proud of this team. It was a lot of fun tonight,” said the four-year starter who along with her fellow captain, Megan Tan, have committed to Bowdoin next year. 

Head coach Melissa Hart said when Andover – which won 18 games this season – would have a spurt in the second half, the Marauders did not loss its nerve. “The seniors are fired up and focused. They’ve been good leaders and dedicated.”

The Belmont win was accomplished by each player stepping up when out on the court, which Hart noted, was sometimes just for a few minutes or after they had made a miscue. 

For sophomore center Emma McDevitt, it was burying two free throws after being slammed to the court seconds after being shoved to the floor for the first time, senior Ella Gagnon loomed large under the boards, and freshman reserve guard Bridgette Martin hit a pair of 3s and scored a critical eight points in the second quarter to allow Belmont to extend its lead at the half, 29-21.

“People gave me the ball knowing I can score,” said Martin. 

Trailing only once in the game, at 0-2, Belmont was able to out hustle the Golden Eagles early to take an 8-2 lead only to see a duo of threes cut margain to 2 at the end of the first, 10-8. After seeing the score tied at 10-10, Belmont would go on a 7-0 run on Martin’s 3 and a 2 followed by give and go when Tan passed to an open Maiya Bergdorf. Belmont kept rolling with Martian’s second 3 followed by a midrange bucket by senior forward Jane Mahon and a “why not” 3 from sophomore point guard Kiki Christofori to give Belmont an 8  point lead, 29-21, at the break.

Despite stepping up its defense and opening up on offense, Andover could not throw off the smothering zone defense Belmont has been known for all season. A Giorgio 2 inside and a Mahon bucket increased the lead to 33-23 midway through the third. Andover closed the game to 6 at 38-32 with a minute to play in the third but McDevitt’s clutch free throws after being mauled and Giorgio’s putback off a miss reupped the score to give the Marauders a 10 point lead, 42-32, at the beginning of the fourth. 

Andover crept back into the game at 45-39 with 3:35 remaining in the game. But a critical block by Mahon, who finished co-high scorer with Martin with 8 points, who scored on a backdoor pass on the other end of the court followed by Gagnon’s own backdoor hoop, to make it 49-39, all but sealed the victory. Sophomore Nina Minicozzi iced the win with a pair of free throws to make it a three possession game with 18.4 seconds to play. 

Top Seed Belmont Girls’ Hoops Tame Panthers In Playoff Opener, 61-35 [VIDEO]

Photo: All photos by David Flanagan.

Too strong, too tall, too talented.

Those were the attributes that top-seed Belmont High Girls’ Basketball demonstrated in its Division 1 North playoff opener against Beverly High School at the Coach Lyons’ Court on Thursday, Feb. 28 as the Marauders came away with a 61-35 victory. 

“The last two games [of the season] we stumbled a little bit compared to the rest of the season,” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart of losses to powerhouses Cathedral and Franklin high schools in the Comcast tournament. “So it was important to get our confidence up and back.” 

Despite a long layoff, the 20-2 Marauders came out read hot as sophomore forward Maiya Bergdorf scored eight of Belmont’s first 10 points as the home team took a 10-0 lead as the Marauders dominated the rebounding chances. 

Beverly would break into the scoring column off a 3 that banked high off the backboard by sophomore Kylie McCarthy, which sparked a 10-4 run for the Panthers cutting Belmont’s lead to 14-10 at the end of the first quarter. 

In response, Hart sent out her “tall” lineup of seniors center Jess Giorgio, forward Ella Gagnon, forward Jane Mahon, Bergdorf as a guard with freshman Nina Minicozzi playing the point. Playing a tight half-court zone, Belmont closed down the inside for Beverly and limited the Panthers to one change under the boards. Mahon hit three midrange baskets and Bergdorf (18 points in her first career playoff action) had an easy two under the basket from Minicozzi to up the Marauders advantage to 10, 22-12.

When Giorgio missed the backend of two free throws, Minicozzi (14 “quiet” points) grabbed the rebound and put the ball through the hoop to finish the 1-2 three-point play, Belmont was up 25-12 with 90 seconds left in the second quarter and would go into the half up 27-16.

The game was decided early in the third when Bergdorf hit a pair of driving hoops and Giorgio hit a shake-and-bake hook shot before taking in a pinpoint pass for an easy two to stretch the lead to 19, 35-16, two minutes into the game. Bergdorf would finish off her eight-point quarter with a steal and basket followed by a pass from senior guard Megan Tan as the Marauders outscored Beverly 20-8 in the third to lead 47-24 entering the fourth.

“I just went out there with the mentality we’re going to have a team win,” said Bergdorf.

Notable performances in the game were sophomore center Emma McDevitt who came off the bench for 10 points and stellar defense and sophomore Kiki Christofori who started and gave yet another prime example of dogged defending against Beverly’s backcourt.

Belmont is scheduled to meet Middlesex League rival Woburn on Monday, March 4 in Belmont at 7 p.m., pending further weather reports. The winner of Monday’s game will meet Andover in the D1N semifinals possibly on Wednesday, March 6; if Belmont wins, the game will be played in Belmont.

Belmont Girls’, Boys’ Basketball Earn 1 Seed In North Sectionals

Photo: Belmont High Boys and Girls have home playoff games.

It’s always impressive for a school’s sports team to be selected the number-one seed in a sectional playoff; it’s an honored earned by a squad for an excellence on the field throughout the entire season.

What’s even more accomplished as well as being extremely rare? Having both teams in a sport – boys’ and girls’ – each selected as one seeds. It happened this basketball season and it happened in Belmont.

On Friday, Feb. 22, at the annoucement of the MIAA basketball tournament, both Marauder teams were selected the number one seeds in their respected divisions – the girls’ in Division 1 and the boys’ in Division 2 – in the North Sectionals which starts next week.

And with the seeding come the matchups and holding the top ranks secures possibily two home games in the first round and quarterfinals for the girls and a quarterfinal match for the boys.

The girls will first play against the winner of the bye-in game between Everett and Beverly (both 10-10) on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Wenner Field House at 7 p.m. If they win on Thursday, Belmont will play the winner of the Woburn (13-7) against Cambridge (14-6) contest, time and date to be determined.

After a bye in the first round, the boys will step on the court to take on a Middlesex League rival, the winner of the Arlington (12-8) vs. Melrose (10-8) first round clash, on Friday, March 1 at 7 p.m. in Belmont.

Title Times Two: Girls’, Boys’ Hoops Take Middlesex Liberty Crowns

Photo: Defense has been the key to the Belmont High Girls’ league championship.

Everything was in place: a packed Wenner Field House, a celebration naming the high school’s main court after legendary boys’ head coach Paul Lyons and the opportunity Friday night for both of Belmont High School basketball teams to clinch league titles.

Girls’ Unbeaten Run Continues As Marauders Secure Crown

On Friday night, the Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team played like a number one team.

In its first game since being selected the top squad in the Boston Globe Top 20 girls’ basketball poll, the 16-0 Marauders showed its dominance against its toughest league opponent, Reading Memorial, beating the Rockets, 51-39, to win the Middlesex League Liberty Division title.

“It feels amazing,” said senior center Ella Gagnon on achieve the championship at home.

“[It’s] great [to win the title] especially on this special night for Paul Lyons,” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart after the victory. “It feels good instead of having our back against the wall. We didn’t want to be in a position where we’re crawling at the end of the season trying to keep up with what we’ve done.

But Hart doesn’t want her to team to ease up between the victory and the start of the MIAA tournament in two weeks.

“We still have two tough leagues left [against Arlington and Woburn] and we want to learn a lot a try to be better over the next week as we have Cathedral next week,” Hart said.

The clash with defending Div. 4 state champions Cathedral High School of Boston in the Comcast Dvinci Energy Basketball Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 16 in Woburn is starting to look like a match between the top two ranked teams in the Globe’s poll. 

On Friday’s tussle, Belmont came out firing from downtown as its league MVP candidate Megan Tan (14 points), frosh phenom Nina Minicozzi (8 points) and sophomore Maiya Bergdorf hit from beyond the three-point arc to give the Marauders a 9-6 lead. Senior center Jess Giorgio (8 points) put back the second of two offense rebounds followed by Bergdorf’s second 3 and a steal leading to a spinning layup by Giorgio saw Belmont end the opening quarter up 19-8.

“They definitely generate a lot of offense,” said Hart. “For [Tan], a lot of it comes from her defense.”

While the offense was hitting on all cylinders, it was the Marauders pressing defense is the fuel that runs the show. Despite averaging 57 points a game, Reading could not find its comfort zone with Belmont’s stifling 2-3 half court zone that had height in the middle – six players at 5’10” or taller topped off with Giorgio at 6’2″ – and a dogged crew of guards with fast hands looking for the steal or interception. For all of the Rockets power, Reading was held to miser-like six points in the second quarter as Belmont’s lead grew to 25-14.

While attempting just one shot in the game, Gagnon was a force under the basket, hauling in approximately 17 rebounds, each grabbed in heavy traffic. During a series under the Rockets’ hoop in the second quarter, Gagnon snagged four consecutive offensive rebounds in a matter of seconds.

“I just have fun with it. Defense is my thing. I just think like ‘I’m going to get this, this is mine and I go right for it’,” said Gagnon who will be playing soccer at Middlebury College next year.

“Amazing effort. Amazing, amazing. She was like a one-girl show,” said Hart of her first-off-the-bench forward.

“We do emphaize the importance of offensive rebounds because you get more chances, it’s as simple as that,” said Hart.

In the third quarter Belmont got four points each from Tan, Giorgio, Minicozzi and Bergdorf, leading to a final quarter which Bergdorf, who ended the night with 18 points, burying two open 3s. 

“I just thought to myself, I don’t have to prove myself, I just have to play my game,” said Bergdorf, who was high scorer against Reading in both games. 

“It’s a team game so I’m not going to be selfish, but, of course, if I have a shot, I’m going to take it.”

Marauders’ gets pushed late but sprints to the league title

With less than two minutes to play in the first half, already up 35-21, Belmont Boys’ Basketball put on a run over 15 seconds that all but put its game against Reading on ice, Friday on the newly named Coach Lyons Court at Belmont High. 

With the Rockets seeking to cut the advantage to under 10 before the half, senior center Danny Seraderian (16 points) came cruising to the basket and hit a cutting layup to bump the score up to 37-21. Racing down court, Seraderian outjumped two Reading forwards to drag down the rebound and swing it to sophomore Preston Jackson-Stephens (with a string of stellar games off the bench, with 11) on the go. Just to the left of the key, Jackson-Stephens feinted to the left, than powered to the basket leaving his defender hoping he didn’t break his ankles as the forward cruised in for the two. Time out Reading. 

Give credit to Reading for putting up, behind a barrage of 3s, a spirited third and fourth quarters cutting a 20-plus lead to only 10, 61-51, with 4:30 remaining in the game. 

But the comeback faded on Belmont’s next three possessions as Belmont’s other Danny, a Boston Globe All-Scholastic Division 1 player of the year candidate Danny Yardemian (30 points to lead all scorers) took control, hitting one of two from the line, scoring two with his reliable drive to the hoop before Seraderian stole the ball and drove all the way for a layup to lead Belmont on a 10-2 run to seal the 71-53 win.

The win saw the Marauders’ record now at 17-1, and ranked 8th in the Boston Globe’s Top 20 poll.