The penultimate week of the winter team season found Belmont teams make and end playoffs chances.
Boys' D-flect high-flying Rockets to make playoffs
Belmont Boys' Basketball came into Friday's, Feb. 10, game against the league-leading Reading Rockets needing a win at home to secure a place in the Division 2 North playoffs.
The Marauders, riding a three game winning streak, also came into the rematch – having lost exactly one month previous by seven, 67-60 – with a plan to stymie the Rocket's running offense with an emphasis of putting a body on everyone.
How well did the plan work? After seeing Reading push the lead to seven at 22-15 at 3:56 in the second quarter, the Rockets wouldn't score another point until 2:14 left in the third, nearly 10 minutes of frustrated shooting from inside and outside with Marauders banging Rockets everywhere.
And over those 10 minutes, Belmont went on an 18-0 run to grab a 33-22 margin. And while the Marauders had to survive a last-gasp move by Reading which reduced the lead to four at 47-43 with a minute to go in the game, Belmont hit free throws in the final 45 seconds to obtain their much coveted 10th win, beating 13-win Reading, 54-47, and holding the Rockets to their lowest point total of the season.
Star Senior forward Jerry Ellis-Williams scored 18 for the Rockets while senior guard Kenny Reed had 9 points.
Unlike their previous game, Tuesday's win verses Winchester, when Head Coach Adam Pritchard cleared the bench, Friday saw four seniors lead the way with guard Sam Musler and forward John Dillon scoring 26 (including 4 threes) and 18 (including a breakaway slam dunk in the first quarter) points respectively.
Seniors Manny Cabral (4 points) and Tyaishawn Abdul-Aziz (6 points) also contributed on the defensive side of the ball.
The Marauders, 10-6 and 4-4 in the Middlesex League, Big School Division, will take on Woburn away Tuesday and have their final home game of the season on Friday against Lexington.
Girls' Hockey survive penalties to double up Reading
If what has happened in the past four games against the Belmont Girls' Hockey team constitutes a trend, it's one the Head Coach Mark Haley wants to end as soon as possible.
In those games, Belmont have found themselves being assessed penalties resulting in the Marauders playing two-men down for significant minutes.
And it was just that penalty predicament Belmont found itself which allowed a very young Reading Rocket team – 18 of its 22 players are equally divided between freshmen and sophomores – to tie the Marauders 2-2 late in the second period as freshman defender Andrea Uglietta fired a high-knuckler that eluded Belmont's goalie Megan Foley.
And it was only Foley's quickly closing her pads preventing Reading to take the lead as freshman Emma McDonagh knocked down a high shot during a 5-3 advantage.
But once the team weathered the onslaught, Haley sent out his top line and within five minutes of the third period, the Marauders doubled their lead through a pair of goals by junior Alexandra Cellucci giving Belmont the winning margin for their 14th victory, 4-2, against Reading on Saturday, Jan. 11.
On Senior's Day and their final regular season game at the Skip Viglirolo Rink, it was appropriate that upper classmen Erin O'Donovan (two goals, two assists), Caroline McCarthy (three assists) and Becca Moore (an assist and with senior Courtney Winn was stellar on defense) would make their presence known throughout the game.
Belmont, 14-3 and ranked number 7 in the Boston Globe Top 20, will have to run the gauntlet this week as they clash with Middlesex League, Big School Division rivals at Woburn (13-2 and ranked 3rd) on Wednesday and at Lexington (11-5 and ranked 13th) Saturday, teams the Marauders defeated earlier this season.
Belmont Boys' see playoffs fade away vs. Rockets
While they faced the uphill task of winning their remaining games to make the state hockey playoffs, the Belmont Boys' Hockey came out against 13th-ranked Reading on Saturday, Feb. 10, at Belmont's Skip Viglirolo Skating Rink taking the play to the Rockets with some success. They were the more physical of the two teams and got their chances in front of the Reading net.
But despite the effort, the Marauders were behind the eight ball, trailing Reading 2-0 after the first period behind goals by junior Robert Devaney and sophomore Mike Thomson.
Yet in the second, Belmont would out shot Reading two-to-one (15-7) and see the Marauders tie it up with two goals within 1:06 by senior star Brian Gramolini getting two assists by fellow senior Kevin Viglirolo and one from Pat Quinn.
But Belmont comeback would not happen on Senior's Day as Reading's Mark Dente scored late in the third to give the Rocket's the 3-2 win and deprive the teams nine seniors – Gramilini, Viglirolo, Matt Madden, Chris Garrett, Brendan Bennett, Jake Brown, Chris Costello, Nick Wybieralla and goaltender John Egbert – the chance to show a greater stage the high-level of talent they possess.