Emma Beltrandi Does It All for Regional 7 Girls Hoop Team. Story by John Torsiello.
By, JOHN TORSIELLO
One can only wonder where the Northwestern Regional 7 girls basketball team would be this year without senior Emma Beltrandi.
The Highlanders finished the regular season 10-10 and are ranked 27th in the Class M state tournament field. Regional 7 will take on sixth-seeded Suffield Tuesday night on the road. Without Beltrandi’s contributions all over the court, Northwestern would likely be sitting home following the tournament from the sidelines.
The 5-foot, 11-inch, 17-year-old guard/forward is averaging almost 17 points, nine rebounds, and 4.8 blocks a game this season, after averaging 14.2 points, almost 10 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks a game last year. She is a first team Berkshire League All-Star this year after earning the honor her junior year, and was second team All-BL her sophomore season. She has captained the Highlanders the last two years.
Here are a just a couple examples of her significant contributions this season; she scored 27 of her team’s 30 points, and had 16 rebounds and five blocks against Lewis Mills, and had another monster game against the Spartans in which she had a triple-double, 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks.
Beltrandi also received the Edward Kolakoski Award this season, as voted by the Berkshire League girls basketball coaches. The award goes to the player who works to her ability, has good basketball and leadership skills, and brings a positive attitude toward the game and people. The award is named in honor of the late Edward Kolakoski, a Litchfield administrator and supporter of the Berkshire League.
“I hope that our team will get past the first round of the state tournament this year,” said Beltrandi. “We lost by two points to East Catholic last year in the first round, and I hope to end my senior year with a run.”
Beltrandi has been playing basketball for 10 years. “I started playing basketball at the age of seven. I did not get competitive with it until I was in sixth grade and joined an AAU team. I played with the Northwestern boys travel team when I was in eighth grade. It helped me to develop a thick skin and a deeper understanding of the game. I have been playing AAU basketball during the offseason since I was in sixth grade, and I finished this past year with the Connecticut Attack.”
She talked about her love for the game.
“To me, basketball is more than just the analytics. Sure, it is nice to score a lot of points and grab rebounds. But I love the team atmosphere. There is something about having a group of like-minded people who always have your back on and off the court.”
Beltrandi is a superb all-around athlete. She starred in field hockey for the Highlanders and was a first team All-Berkshire League player for three years. She ended her career as a goalie with a remarkable total of 700 saves.
Beltrandi believes her strengths as a basketball player lie in more than scoring points.
“I think I am pretty knowledgeable of the game, and therefore am always thinking of what the next best move is. I am very competitive but have mastered the mentality of always moving on to the next play, regardless if the previous one was good or bad.”
Despite her gaudy numbers and awards, she continues to work on her game, mostly on the mental side.
“I think I need to work on controlling my emotions. I am incredibly passionate about the game and sometimes I let that get in the way of the bigger picture. I am very intense, and in the game there is a time to be animated and there is a time to push. I have to work on not letting my feelings affect how I am playing.”
Beltrandi isn’t sure whether she will continue to play basketball in college.
“I have applied to a few schools where I would not play, but I do have some schools where I would. I haven’t made a decision as to where I am going yet, but if there is the opportunity to play I definitely will.”
Asked if she could meet and talk with one basketball player, Beltrandi said, “I would like to meet Larry Bird. I would ask him what he did to be repeatedly successful during his career?”
Bird’s advice would likely be for Beltrandi to keep doing what she has been doing thus far. It has worked just fine.