Belmont 8th Grade Girl Hoopsters Take Home Metrowest Crown

Photo: ”We are the champions!” Belmont’s 8th Grade hoopsters (Back row from left) Leah Attridge, Emma Kass, Sophia McClendon, Sam Ryan, Amy Saukkonen. (Front row from left) Erin Attridge, Grace Grant, Sophie Tournet, Sophia Pang.

It took three nail biters for Belmont’s 8th Grade Maroon basketball team to take the Metrowest League Division 2 tournament, capturing the crown with a come-from-behind victory vs. Wellesley, 48-45, in the finals.

Trailing 44-38 with three minutes remaining in the championship game against a 13-1 opponent, Belmont’s defense shut down Wellesley finishing the game on a 10-to-1 run as Belmont got hot from deep in the second half with Sophia Pang, Amy Saukkonen and Sophie Tournet hitting multiple threes from downtown.

Belmont’s Sam Ryan from the baseline vs. Wellesley in the Metrowest finals

Saukkonen set the tone early for Belmont with her lockdown defense, as Sophia McClendon, Samantha Ryan and Grace Grant controlled the glass. Great passing and unselfish play from the entire team led to many open shots. Leading scorers were Pang with 17, Tournet,11, with McClendon and Saukkonen finnished with nine each.

Belmont ended the season with a 15-6 record.

“This team always plays unselfish, intelligent and hard. They stay positive even when things aren’t going well. This is a guaranteed recipe for success,” said Jason Tournet, who along with Bernie Ryan and Mike Grant coached the girls.

Belmont’s Leah Attridge (right) vs. Wellesley in the Metrowest final.

Belmont defeated Hopkington in the first round, 61-58, with Ryan, Pang, McClendon and Tournet scoring in double figures. Erin and Leah Attridge hit clutch jump shots and Ryan nailed a 3 to give Belmont the lead late in the 3rd quarter. Grant grabbed multiple key rebounds and Pang and Tournet combined for 14 in the 4th quarter to help hold off a late Hopkington charge. 

Belmont won a tightly-fought semifinal, 44-40, against a 14-2 Rochester squad. McClendon dominated from the tip, finishing with 24 points and several blocked shots. Pang chipped in with 14 and the Belmont team defense did a great job in the second half with Emma Kass excellent under the basket, helping to overcome a tall Rochester front line.

In the past four years, the team racked up a 12-1 playoff record while winning a pair of Metro crowns all the while having a great experience playing basketball together. The team would like to thank Belmont Youth Basketball Association for all of its support, particularly during the Covid pandemic. 

Honoring Coach Lyons, From A Player And Coach Who Knows Him Best

Photo: A collage of memories with Coach Paul Lyons.

by Adam Pritchard
Varsity Boys Basketball Coach
Belmont High School

In 1978, I first started my career in Belmont Basketball when as a third grader I was signed up for the Belmont Youth Basketball Association.  It was in its second year of existence and I fell in love with the sport. In those years following, my mom was running a needlepoint store in Belmont Center. Saturdays I would get dropped on at the high school with a bag lunch and told: “I’ll pick you up around 5:30.” Maybe it was free babysitting for her, but for me, it was the place I looked forward to hanging out at all week.

That summer, after playing organized basketball for the first time, my mom signed me up for a summer camp at Belmont High school run by the Varsity Coach Paul Lyons. It was then that I met one of the most influential people I would ever meet. I can’t say I remember much, memories are fleeting and have their own life, but I do remember coach saying my name and having me demonstrate a shooting form drill with some of the older high school players. I remember being told to “reach up into the cookie jar” and “keep your eyes on the rim.” Its hard to put to words the feelings that go into a moment like that, but I know it made me proud and wanting to work towards improving. I wanted to be part of Belmont Basketball. I wanted to hear Lyons call my name out on that court again.

Anyone interested in supporting this event and 
the Coach Paul Lyons Scholarship fund can follow the link below.Thanks!
Coach Lyons Court/Scholarship Fund

Following that camp, I committed to basketball. It was a love and the thing I wanted to do more than anything else.  It was my passion and that court was my home.  The court is where I tried out for Varsity.  Its where Coach Lyons met with me to tell me I was cut as a sophomore (a very difficult day).  It’s also where I was named a Varsity player as a junior (a great day),  named me captain as a senior when the other captain (my best friend) got injured.  Its where Coach told me why I wasn’t starting and later told me that I would start.  Its where I learned countless phrases like “success is a journey, not a destination” and “we over me,” “there is no ‘I’ in team” and “be a helper.” It’s where Belmont High School players for 25 years, in practice, would make a steal, an assist, a score, a rebound, or anything positive and here coach boom out… “NICE PLAY!”

Lyons introduced me as freshman coach in 1991, providing me a start in coaching and tutelage to work for one of the finest basketball minds I have ever met. His knowledge of the game was (and is) unparalleled and his teachings of sportsmanship and playing with integrity have been an example for countless players who had the opportunity to play on his teams.  As an assistant, I witnessed the care, precision, preparation, and fairness through which he helped develop players.  He was a master coach.

The Main Court is where I have had the privilege of coaching the Belmont High Boys Varsity for the past 19 years. As varsity coach, I have seen the lasting impact of Paul’s coaching on alumni, current players, and those kids who have been lucky enough to have him as a youth coach in recent years. Every year, I open the season with a call or calls to Lyons – his wife will verify if you need it.  Those calls continue throughout the season because the one thing I know is that I have the greatest resource a coach could ever have and I have so, so much more to learn still. More importantly, the blessings of his mentoring have only been exceeded but his generosity and friendship.

Simply put, I’m a very fortunate coach.

Proudly, with great thanks to the Belmont School Committee, and the support of our Marauder Basketball Association, The Belmont Youth Basketball Association, the Belmont Boosters, the Belmont High School Athletic Department staff, and thousands of basketball players, girls and boys alike who have played BYBA and for Belmont High School, I am honored to be able to coach the inaugural game on Friday, February 8, at 7:30 p.m. vs. Reading Memorial High School, on “COACH LYONS COURT”.

It will be one one of my most cherished moments as a Belmont coach and I hope you are there to share it with me.