'Really good decision': Kristen Belden happy with switch to basketball at Central CatholicThe Repository
February 1, 2023
PERRY TWP. — There are few opportunities for Central Catholic's Kristen Belden to sharpen her tee shots when winter roars in.
With golf on hiatus, jump shots become Belden's focus of attention. Those who watch her play basketball know she is good at that, too.
Belden is playing a prominent role for the Crusaders in her second high school basketball season. Her 18-point game Saturday helped Central beat St. Thomas Aquinas 71-38.
Basketball is the second winter sport Belden has excelled. She swam during her first two years at Central. As a freshman, she qualified for the Division II state meet in the 100-yard freestyle.
After her sophomore year, Belden felt a change was needed come wintertime.
"I swam for eight years of my life," Belden said. "It was kind of like my whole personality. Then I just got really burnt out from it. I decided to step away.
"My best friend was on the basketball team, and I used to play basketball, too. I never wanted to do nothing over the winter. I wanted to keep staying active. I decided to play basketball again. It was a really good decision."
Central won eight games in Belden's first season. This year, she had to take on a bigger role to help the Crusaders achieve more success. They head into the homestretch with an 11-8 record.
The Crusaders lost Viv Marshall, Belden's best friend, to an ACL injury at the end of soccer season. Sophia Ianni suffered a broken leg in a game last year and did not return this season.
Instead of having three seniors in the lineup this season, the Crusaders had only one — Belden.
"The leadership burden really fell on her," Central head coach Tim Vandervaart said. "She has grown tremendously."
As a golfer, Belden knows how to balance her emotions. She can't get too high if she hits a great tee shot or sinks a long putt. She can't get too low if a shot lands in the bunker or a hole is bogeyed.
In basketball, Belden understands it is OK to show emotion and encourage her teammates during a game.
"With golf, I definitely learned to keep all my emotions in and stay kind of stoic," Belden said. "That carried over to basketball. I've never been a very vocal person.
"This year I'm a lot better and getting excited and getting my teammates excited."
Belden also continues to expand her basketball skills. She believes the Aquinas game may have marked the second time she attempted 3-pointers. She was 2-for-2.
"Tim gave me a challenge and wanted me to shoot," Belden said of Vandervaart. "I decided to do it. Luckily they both went in."
Belden has a lot to look forward to. She recently signed her national letter of intent to play golf at Kent State.
Belden also hopes to make the most of her final high school basketball season. Her teammates include cousins Lily and Sarah Belden.
"I think well all want to go on a really long run and potentially make it to state," Belden said. "I think we all have the same goal and are all willing to work hard for it."
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