Saturday, February 10, 2018

Needham Pulls Away at Natick

By Kyle Schroeder (@kyschroeder81)

Natick, Mass. - After starting the season 10-0, the Needham Rockets hit a small rough patch going 2-2 in their next four games, with both loses coming against elite competition. Friday night against Natick was an opportunity for the Rockets to get themselves back on track.

Needham accomplished that mission with a dominant fourth quarter, pulling away from Natick to win by a score of 61-44.

Heading into the fourth quarter, the lead for Needham was at six after sophomore guard Will Dorion hit a three with a couple seconds remaining in the third quarter. Star guard Thomas Shaughnessy, like he often does, took over on the offensive end for Needham and the Rockets combined that with excellent defense on the other end. Shaughnessy had six points and three assists in the quarter, which resulted in a 16-3 run by Needham, which essentially iced the game allowing bench players to enter.

“We did a good job of changing our defense as often as we could so they could never get comfortable and be off a balance,” said Needham head coach Paul Liner. “Thomas was obviously great again with what he was able to do controlling the game.”

Shaughnessy finished the game with 22 points and five assists, including a few plays where he was the man giving the hockey assist. Shaughnessy was doubled off a pick and roll a few times and he would find the right man who then would get the assist on a pass to someone else.  

While the game finished in a blowout in favor of Needham, Natick did a good job of hanging around for the first three quarters of the game. Senior Jahden Erold had some strong finishes that earned him 14 points, senior Will Brodnitzski used his size to score 15, and senior Peter Ryan dished out four assists. The Redhawks went on a 7-0 run in the 2nd quarter to take a 18-17 lead before the Rockets quickly answered going on a 5-0 spurt to take a 21-18 lead into halftime.

Coming out of the locker room, Erold and Ryan each hit a three pointer to give Natick a 24-21 lead forcing an early Rockets timeout. Needham again answered when adversity hit as Brandon Monheimer hit a three to tie the game on the next possession. This was one of three Monheimer’s three pointers in the third quarter and he finished the game with 14 points.

“Brandon shot the ball incredibly well in the second half… He’s a great shooter and some times we have to tell to shoot the ball and when he listens, he is a confident player,” said Liner.

In addition to Monheimer, Dorian was a huge factor in the success of the Rockets offense in the second half. Dorian continued to show the potential he has as a sophomore with his ability to shoot the ball from anywhere on court and set up teammates for easy shots. He put up 12 points with three triples and also assisting on four field goals.

“He’s playing confident right now. He put in a lot of time over the summer to improve his game and it’s showing up now. He’s made big shots for us all year and we look for him to be a big time contributor for years to come.”

In the first half, Needham had a very hard time generating good looks as they only scored 21 points. Luckily for them, Natick was able to get decent looks against their defense but was unable to capitalize several times as the Redhawks only scored 18 points in the half. Brodnitzki in particular had a rough first half as he got position in the paint a handful of times but missed a few easy, point-blank shots.

“We trusted our offense a lot better in the second half and we played much harder. I thought the compete level was much higher in second half and that is where it should have been the whole game,” said Liner.

Up next for Needham is a rematch against Newton North, this time at home.

“To be the best you have to beat the best. Playing this level of competition is great for us.”

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