The Washington Post

Lynee Belton powers Bullis past Flint Hill in ISL girls’ basketball

For a player who is considered among the top recruits among her age group, Bullis sophomore center Lynee Belton sure got a late start on basketball. In fact, bouncing a ball and shooting hoops wasn’t even on her radar until she was 11; it was gymnastics and cheerleading up until then. “I was a girly girl,” she said.

In the time since, however, the 6-foot-1 Belton has blossomed into a top player, one who can command a game with her athleticism, size and rebounding. In the Bulldogs’ Independent School League AA opener on Thursday night in Oakton, Belton powered her team to a 46-36 win over Flint Hill with a 22-point, nine-rebound, three-block performance.

Belton’s first experience with basketball was as an 11-year-old, when her father had to sneak her into a summer basketball camp because her mother didn’t like the sport and didn’t want her daughter playing it. She was 5-7 then and raw, but a camp director saw potential and asked Belton to join his AAU team.

“I was so uncoordinated, literally falling on the floor every time I got the ball,” she said, laughing. “I worked at it in the gym almost every week and almost every day, and now I’m this.”

Added Bullis Coach Kira Orr: “She is a sponge. I’ve never had a prep player who I can show her something in the post with her footwork and the next trip down the floor and it’s there.”

Before she joined Bullis (8-3, 1-0) as an eighth-grader, private schools such as Paul VI, Spalding and St. John’s recruited Belton, who would have attended Wise in Upper Marlboro. Now, as a sophomore, colleges have come knocking.

“All the ACC, SEC, Big East,” Orr said. “All the big dogs.”

On Thursday, Flint Hill (6-4, 0-1), without two starters, used its defense to slow down the taller Bulldogs. Senior Alison Bragaw-Butler, nursing a shoulder injury, scored 18 points to lead Flint Hill.

But after a first half in which the teams combined for 22 points, Bullis and Belton began exerting themselves. Bullis held a 30-24 lead after three quarters but pulled further ahead in the final quarter behind Belton’s vacuum-cleaner rebounding skills and post moves.

“It worked good, not just today, but with a lot of teams that don’t have a lot of height, we can just lob it up and I can get the ball or Taylor [Jenkins] can get the ball,” she said.

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010, wrote about high school sports across the region for two years and has covered the Nationals since the middle of the 2012 season.
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