One more and then it's off to the dance.
That's what's facing the Belmont High School Girls' Basketball team after it defeated neighboring Arlington High School, 50-33, Friday afternoon, Feb. 1, at Belmont's Wenner Field House; just win one of their final four games of the season and the Marauders will be heading back to the MIAA Division 2 North tournament for the first time in five years.
You can watch the game on the Belmont Media Center. Check out the times and when the game will be "on demand."
Head Coach Melissa Hart's team used another big offensive performance by team co-captain and senior guard/forward Katie Leinbach (19 points), to raise their record to 9-7 for their second straight win after suffering a six consecutive-game losing streak midway through the season.
"Until we get to 10 wins, I'll be a stress case," said Hart after the game.
"Right now, I want us to play well at this point in the season as the tournament gets closer," said Hart.
Belmont, which was without starting point guard senior Amari Bradshaw for large portions of the game due to a lingering cold, followed the same script from Wednesday's match with Worcester North starting the game tentatively, leading 10-8 after the first quarter with senior Kate Zolner (7 points) coming through with four points and dominating under the hoop.
But like Tuesday's game, the Marauders exploded over the next eight minutes, scoring 20 in the second quarter led by Leinbach's 10 (including a three from downtown) and sophomore center Linda Herlihy who cashed in six points from in close, to build a 30-18 lead over Arlington (5-8) at the half.
Hart praised co-captain forward Olivia Lyons (8 points) who went from her usual game of battling under the basket to being a distributor, doling out double digits in assists and leading the offensive from the high post.
"[Lyons'] starting to look and see that if she has two girls on her, someone is open and she took advantage of that. I am really proud of that," said Hart.
Belmont continued its season-long habit of coming back from the break a bit slow – scoring a mere four baskets (and 11 points) in the third quarter from Leinbach, Lyons, sophomore forward Elena Bragg (5 points) and Zolner – but a strong zone defense allowed only 8 SpyPonder points in the quarter to see the Marauders' lead expand to 41-26.
"We wanted to win the third quarter because that has been our nemeses and we did," said Hart.
While lamenting her team's continued woeful performance from the free-throw line – hitting only 8 of 20 shots taken from the charity strip – Hart took heart that "at least we didn't go 35 times to the line because this way we have chances to score."
Next week, Belmont will see the weak and the strong in league opponents as they travel Tuesday to Winchester (2-13) and then Friday, the Marauders host the number 1 team in the state, undefeated Reading High School with University of Richmond-bound senior Olivia Healy, who is acknowledged as the best female hoopster in Massachusetts.
Coincidentally, Belmont's next two challengers played each other on Friday with Reading manhandling the Sachems, 52-12.