For the first time since Jan. 8, the Belmont High School Girls' Basketball team ended a game with smiles on their faces, winning in a blow out, 64-22, against the visitors from North (Worcester) High School.
For nearly a month, the Hoops team – that had started the season like gangbusters – was stuck in the deepest, muddiest ditch of defeat that a team could endure.
Having come out of the gates 7-1, the team entered Wednesday's non-league game against the North High School Polar Bears at .500 after failing six times to see their playoff dreams turn into a nightmare.
In the six games, they not just lost to top teams – state number 1 Reading and two-loss Lexington – but squads which would have appeared on paper not to be much of a treat against the Marauders.
But when it rains, it pours as Belmont (8-7) would help their opponents by missing an extraordinary number of free-throws – 19 in a game they lost in overtime – while against others they witnessed teams performing their best for the entire season against the Marauders.
Add to that a loss of confidence in their shots (losing one game scoring only 31 points) and questionable official calls – senior captain Katie Leinbach being called for a phantom travelling call after hitting a shot against an undermanned Burlington team on Monday that would have sent the game into overtime – and the team just needed a win of any kind to lead them out of the ditch.
Enter the Polar Bears.
Worcester North (8-7) came into the game willing to play with the Marauders but did not posses the skills needed to prevent Belmont from dominating under the basket both on offense and defense. And while Belmont were slow out of the blocks - leading 8-4 after the first quarter – a 26 point second quarter – led by senior co-captain Olivia Lyon's eight points (9 points in the game) – sealed the win as the Marauders' own full-court press allowed Worcester North a scant six points.
Belmont's Head Coach Melissa Hart emptied her bench early in the second half allowing 12 Marauders on the scoring sheet including juniors Talene Sagherian (4 points), Michaela McKay (2 points), Alexa Analetto (3 for four from the charity strip) and senior Nayiri Ayanian (2 points) while junior Mizuho Hirai led the team's offense from the point.
At 8-7, Belmont is two wins away from making the post season for the first time since 2008 with five games to play. And the Marauders will take on two teams that they beat earlier in the season, Arlington Friday at home and at Winchester on Tuesday.