Belmont Hill will have to wait one more year for that coveted ISL basketball title. After a ferocious 10-0 start to ISL play, the Varsity Basketball team struggled to stay at the top of league standings during the last stretch of the season, dropping close games to undefeated league champion Brooks, Milton, and Governor’s. Despite three losses, the team managed to finish in second place (tied with Governor’s) in the ISL for a third consecutive year.
One indisputable highlight from the end of the season was senior night, a Friday night home game played against Middlesex. As is tradition, the evening began with the national anthem, a special ceremony for the team’s four seniors (Jack Daley, John Sommers, Patrick Shea, and TJ Agnihotri), and starting lineups announced by retired faculty member Mrs. Whitney. After the seniors were honored and propelled Belmont Hill to an early lead, co-captain Jovan Jones ‘18 entered just seven points shy of 1,000 in his Belmont Hill career. After a bucket near the basket to score his first two of the night, Jovan continued to drive to the hoop, drawing fouls and making free-throws. He was soon just two points away from the fabled number. The crowd in the gym was clearly aware, tracking each Belmont Hill possession with excitement and quickly rising whenever the ball entered Jovan’s vicinity. It became evident that Jovan wanted to hit 1K in style, as he passed up easy looks in the paint. Even open 3s lacked enough flair to be deemed acceptable. On one possession, Jovan received a pass far beyond the 3-point line, spun the ball around his back, waited for the defender, and then launched a deep shot, unfortunately missing. As the 1st half progressed, excitement and expectation grew with every passing minute. Many in the gym stole glances at the mounted scoreboard, worrying that they would have to sit through halftime before witnessing a piece of Belmont Hill athletics history. Yet the long wait was definitely the worth it—with just less than 40 seconds remaining in the half, Jovan received the ball at halfcourt on a fast break. Quickly passing to point-guard Jake Haase ‘18, he sprinted up the court, eyes on the hoop. Haase, needing no reminder, skillfully lobbed a pass to a soaring Jovan, who finished the stunning alley-oop with two hands. With the sweetest dunk of his career, Jovan Jones joined only five other Belmont Hill basketball players in scoring 1,000 points. Jovan doing so as only a junior is especially impressive. BallasTV was present to record the basket, and a Coach Murphy timeout following the play allowed Jovan the chance to embrace family and friends before enjoying more time in front of the camera.
— Sherwyn Cooper (@BallasTV) February 18, 2017
Belmont Hill’s 2017-2018 campaign has long represented the team’s best chance at a first ISL title. The team returns 11 of 15, including the usual starting five (David Mitchell ‘18, Jovan Jones ‘18, Kevin Michael O’Boy ‘19, Jake Bobo ‘18, and Jake Haase ‘18), preferred substitutes (Quentin Harris ‘18, Spenser Smith ‘18), big men (Eric Taitano ‘18 and Sean Mannion ‘18), and athletic guard duo (Justin O’Neil-Riley ‘18 and Luke Jordan ‘18). Brooks will continue to field a strong team, standout guard Cormac Ryan ‘18 will remain at Milton Academy, and the introduction of Tabor to the ISL may pose some obstacles to Belmont Hill’s title hopes; however, having a whole year left to improve means this current group of juniors (and lone sophomore “Kmo”) could certainly make Belmont Hill the league’s champion come next March.