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Kleckner's Career Night Leads Marauders Over Minutemen in Boys' Basketball

Win pushes Marauders into first in Middlesex League Liberty Division.

Belmont junior center Adam Kleckner scored a career high 36 points in a win over Lexington, 80-74.
Belmont junior center Adam Kleckner scored a career high 36 points in a win over Lexington, 80-74.
Junior center Adam Kleckner hit for a career high 36 points to go along with more than a dozen rebounds in a dominating performance on his home court to lead host Belmont High School Boys' Basketball past a pesky Lexington High School Minutemen, 80-74, on Tuesday, Jan. 14 at Wenner Field House.

"We came off two pretty tough games (a loss this past Friday at Woburn and a last-second win at Arlington last week) and I wanted to prove to myself and to the rest of the team's in the league that we are a pretty good team," Kleckner told Belmont Patch after the game.

"[Kleckner] had a monster first half (23 points including 15 in the second quarter)," said Belmont's Head Coach Adam Pritchard.

"He's a very versatile kid whose worked hard on all aspects of his game. Last year he was a guy mostly around the basket, this year he can knock down jump shots," Pritchard said.

Kleckner's three dozen points mostly came inside, muscling aside Lexington's twin big men, sophomore Harry (14 points) and senior captain Harry O'Neil, but also taking advantage of defenders giving him top of the key jump shot.

"I'm pretty good inside so I've been practicing all summer from mid-range giving me another option on offense," said Kleckner. 

Up 15-10 entering the second quarter, Kleckner went on a scoring blitz, scoring from inside on an offensive rebound, outside with a jumper and then inside again with a foul in the first two minutes. He finished with 15 points of the Marauders' 29 points in the quarter on six hoops and 3 for 4 from the charity stripe. And his three-quarter's court shot hit the front of the rim at the half-time buzzer. 

But Lexington's Hugh O'Neil nearly matched his fellow center's heroics, scoring 12 points in the second including a three from downtown.

Keeping the junior company on the score sheet was fellow big man, senior captain Aaron Croce (10 points), who cashed in with 6 points in the quarter while sophomore Matt Kerans (11 points) hit from the outside along with two free throws to join fellow back courter senior captain Keith Burns (17 points with a trio of three point hoops) with 4 points to lead 44-34 entering the third quarter.

But Lexington would not go away. Behind talented junior guard David Barner, who scored 8 of his 21 points in the third, the Minutemen reduced a 17 point Marauder advantage, 53-36, by going on an 18 to 4 run to finish the third. And two free throws from Hugh O'Neil (who finished with a team high 26 points) cut Belmont's margin to one with 5:45 left as the Marauders appeared to slow as Pritchard kept his starters in through the match using his bench sparingly. 

"There was a flow out there with the starters and since they only picked up one foul each at the half, I didn't see much reason to take them out for extended time," Pritchard said.

But a Burns three, a Kleckner jumper, another trey from Burns off a big offensive rebound from Croce built the lead back up to 11, 71-60. A 14 to 7 Lexington run tightened up the game with 22 seconds remaining, the victory was sealed by junior Ben Lazenby's (6 points) two free throws with 7 seconds left.

"We certainly scored some points but what the third [quarter] showed that we need to do a better job defensively and not allow teams high percentage shots and rebounds. Although I'm happy, this is a game we need to learn from," said Pritchard. 

The win places the Marauders atop the Middlesex League's Liberty Division at 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the division. 

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