Bullis center Lynee’ Belton drew a tough assignment in her season debut last week after missing 12 games with a concussion, facing No. 12 Georgetown Visitation. But the game for Belton was really against herself, against her own body, trying pace herself against players who had two more months of conditioning.
Still, Belton was terrific in the 73-64 loss. The Duke signee scored 20 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, picking up right where she left off from last season’s averages of 14 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
“Even though we lost, it felt good to just be on the court…it felt good being with my teammates,” said Belton, who started practicing two weeks ago. “It was hard for me because I couldn’t even watch practices or games. I wasn’t allowed to, so I felt like a bad teammate and that I was letting my team down.”
Bullis was scheduled to play No. 1 Riverdale Baptist last week, but the game was postponed due to exams at the school. Even without that test, the Bulldogs (5-8) are at the halfway point of their season having completed a difficult schedule. They have already met No. 13 Good Counsel twice, Capitol Christian, Wilson and Georgetown Visitation – all losses, all lessons in adjusting to a style of play without their star. Without Belton (the team’s third leading scorer, Ashley DeLeonibus, also missed several games with a leg injury), offense was hard to come by the first two months of the season. Entering last week’s game against the Cubs, Bullis was averaging just 35.5 points per game and had not cracked 60 points in any of those contests.
The return of a healthy Belton should help. The 6-foot-2 center, a second team All-Met last winter, scored in double figures in all but three games last season (she missed seven games in the middle of the season with a leg injury). She was at her best late in the season, fighting off a bum ankle in the ISL AA championship game against Georgetown Visitation, scoring 21 points to lead her team to the title. Rated as ESPN’s No. 10 player in the country in the class of 2014, Belton signed with Duke last August.
“I’m definitely nervous about next year, excited. Overall its just a lot of emotions packed into one,” Belton said. “I think I made the correct decision with choosing my school, and that will pay off in the end, academic and basketball wise.”
Bullis, which has won three straight, has weathered the storm in league play (4-1) heading into this week’s showdown against National Cathedral (6-1, 5-0). The game represents its own set of challenges; the Bulldogs will be facing on the area’s premier scorers in junior guard Marta Sniezek (29 ppg), and Belton will be matched up against a talented young front court led by Isabella Alarie (13.4 ppg). It’s an important league game, Belton said, an important stepping stone to getting back into playing shape in preparation for the final month of her senior season.
“I’m definitely a little bit about of shape,” Belton said. “Definitely when we play [Georgetown Visitation] next time I’ll be in shape and I will have those things that I need to improve down pat, and hopefully we’ll get a win.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 8
The number of 20-point games this season for Centreville guard Jenna Green, who scored 20 points to lead the 11th ranked Wildcats to a third straight win over No. 17 Oakton on Friday.
–Clarksburg was in need of a statement win, and found one with an aggressive defensive effort against No. 20 Springbrook on Friday.
– McKinley Tech forward Christian Lutete had a lot on his plate on and off the court last week, but his preparation for Cardozo paid off to the tune of 30 points in an important DCIAA win.
– Maret hit a rough patch with two losses in three games earlier this month, but responded with cool efficiency in a rout of then No. 19 St. Andrew’s on Friday.
– Anacostia’s pregame dinner was interrupted with surprising news on Friday afternoon, and the Indians took it in stride to beat H.D. Woodson for the second time this season.
PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Boys Basketball: The Martin Luther King Jr. Hoopfest Showcase, Coolidge, all day
The four-day event wraps up Monday with a quality slate of games, including Cesar Chavez vs. Gwynn Park (2:30 p.m.), Theodore Roosevelt vs. Martin Luther King (Pa.) (4 p.m.) and Coolidge vs. Math, Civics and Sciences Charter (Pa.) (5:30 p.m.)