Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cambridge Outlasts Needham for D1 EMass Title

By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

WORCESTER, Mass. - Every time Needham seemed to be on the verge of pulling off the upset, Cambridge did what they do best and kept it simple.

Behind double-doubles from Dimon Carrigan (14 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks) and Daniel Rymer (14 points, 10 rebounds), the defending Division 1 State champions held off a second half run from the Rockets and came away with a 50-45 victory in the Division 1 State Semifinals on Wednesday night at WPI.

The win advances Cambridge to the Division 1 State Final for the second straight year, and improves their winning streak to 43 games dating back to December of 2015.

Cambridge (23-0) exploited their significant size advantage in the paint throughout the contest. At the half the Falcons held a 25-7 rebounding edge over Needham (20-5) and by games end it stood at 45-20.

Falcons coach Lance Dottin said that Rymer and Carrigan are at the top of reasons as to why his team is in the spot it is.

“You cannot say enough about those guys (Carrigan and Rymer) and how they have grown,” said Dottin. “Dimon came up as a sophomore. To have those guys in the middle it means so much because they clean up all of our mistakes.”

By halftime Cambridge had built a 27-13 lead, but the Rockets – as they have all season long – made some key adjustments on both sides of the ball to climb back into the game.

Needam coach Paul Liner incorporated a pick and roll between Thomas Shaughnessy (11 points) and Will Cooper (14 points). The offensive set worked to perfection with Shaughnessy hitting Cooper off the role three times for seven combined points.

The three feeds to Cooper combined with a Shaughnessy trey and Brandon Monheimer three pulled Needham within 36-31 late in the third quarter.

Cambridge was able to gain a little bit of breathing room late in the frame on a basket by Jonathan Cenescar to stretch the lead to 38-31 heading into the fourth quarter.

Cambridge was able to extend their lead up to 11 to begin the fourth, but the Rockets once again got back within striking distance.

Shaughnessy connected on a deep trey, and Monheimer hit one of his own from the right wing.

Inside Carrigan proved to be too much for the Rockets, however, as a put back basket combined with two shots at the charity stripe gave Cambridge a seven point cushion, 48-41, and all but sealed the victory.

“We are where we should be at this point in the year,” said Dottin. “I thought we went away from our big guys after the start of the game and we cannot do that. We cannot let that happen on Saturday.”

While the loss is a frustrating one for Needham, the Rockets are certainly likely to be in the mix for a south sectional title once again come next year. Needham superstar guard Thomas Shaughnessy returns as does Cooper and Monheimer, two players who were instrumental in getting the Rockets back into the game on Wednesday night.

Liner said the tournament experience those kids received this year will pay dividends come 2017.

“Getting this experience is outstanding,” said Liner. “To go this far and to come this close just creates a hungry offseason for the coach and the players. We are excited about what we have coming back.”

Cambridge for their part heads to the state championship on Saturday looking to become the third Division 1 school (Newton North, Springfield Putnam) in the last 13 years to win back-to-back titles.

Carrigan noted the pride that he and his team feels being able to win for the city of Cambridge.

“It is always about making history,” said Carrigan. “We just want to make history for the school and the city. It is great to go back knowing that we have a really special opportunity to be two time defending state champions.”

The Falcons will await the winner of Springfield Central and Franklin, but whoever Cambridge opposes will have their hands full with the Falcons' size in the paint.

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