Both the Belmont High Boys’ and Girls’ basketball teams returned home from their short trip to neighboring Arlington on Wednesday, Feb. 4, a little worse for wear as both Marauder squads were defeated by their SpyPond hosts.
The boys’ – with their entire varsity squad healthy and playing for the first time all year – nearly pulled off the upset against an undefeated Arlington team, but could not hold onto a second-half advantage as Arlington’s top player, who will be playing for Division 1 Syracuse next year – on the soccer pitch – lead the SpyPonders to the 65-56 victory.
Girls’ Head Coach Melissa Hart said recently the team’s most glaring flaw – this from a squad that thrives on defensive intensity – is giving up too many three-point buckets. That deficiency was highlighted Wednesday when Arlington stroke nine threes, including three consecutive treys by SpyPonder junior guard Margaret Ammondson (15 points) in the second quarter, to avenge a loss to the Marauders in January, winning in Arlington, 56-41.
The loss to 15-0 Arlington was there for the taking for the Marauders. Using its speedy backcourt of senior Ben Lazenby (7 points) and Matt Kerans (16 points), the outside shooting of the guards and junior sixth-man Cole Bartels (6 points) and senior forward Seth Altman (9 points) and keying off All-Star senior center Adam Kleckner (16 points), the Marauders lead after the first 17-16 and at the half, 34-32, as the game came was a give and take affair, much of it from beyond the three-point line.
In the third quarter, SpyPond senior forward Miles Robinson (21 points) – the soccer sensation who “likes” basketball – took center stage, running off eight consecutive points (3 hoops and 2 from the line) on Arlington possessions to lift his team to a 46-43 lead at the end of three.
But Altman came through early for Belmont in the final stanza, hitting inside and outside (a three pointer) to put the Marauders on top by two. But that man Robinson scored quickly and his compatriot, senior guard Josh Lee (22 points) made a steal and a bucket and then hit a big three pointer to give the hosts a 55-50 lead midway in the quarter.
Belmont cut the lead to three at 55-52 and in control of the ball when Robinson stole the ball once again for a layup to extend the lead to five. The next time downcourt, the Marauders coughed up the rock leading to another uncontested hoop and the ball game.
The Boys will host Woburn, who stunned the Marauders in January by going on a 9-0 run in the final 90 seconds to win at Woburn High School.
In Hart’s eyes, Arlington stepped up their game since the last time they encountered the Marauders – in which Belmont came back from 9 down in the third to win – who unfortunately decided to have its poorest all-round game of the season.
“Not our best game,” said Hart. “But Arlington played very well.”
Arlington came to play, taking off to a 19-4 first quarter lead with that included 3 threes – two from Grace Carter (11 points) – with the Marauders scoring through forwards junior Sarah Stewart (2 points) and Elena Bragg who finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds on another productive night for the senior.
Belmont made its run in the second quarter as Belmont held Arlington to eight points – although they gave up the first six points of the half – and squeezed in 16 of their own. Junior forward Samari Winklaar (5 points) and senior point guard Sophia Eschenbach-Smith (6 points and 5 assists) each hit two buckets to trim the lead to 27-20.
Belmont got the lead down to three points at 27-24 early in the third but there would be no comeback for the Marauders this time around as Ammondson hit her three straight threes, as the SpyPonders put up two more threes in the quarter to run off to an insurmountable 46-26 lead at the end of three.
Next up for the Girls’ will be a rematch with one loss Woburn on Friday, Feb. 6, at home, where the team is undefeated.