Belmont High School Head Coach Melissa Hart said early this season that playing a complete 32 minute game was one of the main goals for this season's girls' basketball team.
Against host Arlington High, 30 minutes turned out to be good enough as Belmont – playing their best game of the year with strong defense and balanced scoring – relied on two clutch free throws from junior guard Amari Bradshaw with four seconds left to beat the comeback-minded Spy Ponders. 49-45, Tuesday, Jan. 3.
Eight Marauders put their mark in the scoring column with junior standout Katie Leinbach leading the way, putting in 18 points including two three's in an 8 point third period as Belmont (2-3, 2-5) built a 15 point lead against Arlington (2-2, 2-3), 37-22, with six minutes remaining in the game after sophomore Gabrielle Joyal (4 points) hit a driving layup.
Belmont reached that point by playing stellar defense holding Arlington to three points in the first quarter and 11 for the half led by junior Olivia Lyons on the boards (who contributed 7 points of her 14 total in the first half) with the "Five and Dime" back court of Bradshaw (4 points) and frosh Sophia Eschenbach-Smith (4 points) controlling the up tempo Marauder game plan.
While Belmont had the majority of the play, Arlington stayed in the game as senior captain forward Colleen Kane – the best player on the newly refurbished floor – scored from inside on slashing drives and from beyond the arc, hitting six three pointers ending with 26 points.
Belmont still had a 13 point lead with 2:45 remaining, 45-32, when the Spy Ponders used an aggressive pressing defense and the leadership of senior co-captain point guard Hannah Howe-Lubowich (6 of her 8 points in the final minutes) and Kane hitting a total of 11 points in a minute and a half reduced the lead to 47-45 with 4 seconds left.
But Bradford, one of Belmont's best from the charity stripe, hit the pair to seal the deal.