Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Shaughnessy, Rockets Give Needham Community a Lift

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

In the midst of one the darkest times for the Needham community, Thomas Shaughnessy and the Rockets boys basketball team provided a small ray of light.

On Tuesday night, Shaughnessy scored 28 points, including a crucial step back three-pointer in the game’s waning moments to lead Needham past Bay State Carey rival Newton North, 64-57, in front of a electric crowd at Needham High School.

In the wake of a unthinkable tragedy that saw the loss of a pair of students this past weekend Shaughnessy noted the importance of pulling the community together.
“This was a really good opportunity to come together and unify as a school,” said Shaughnessy. “It’s a good feeling to come out here and give the community something they deserve.”

Needham coach Paul Liner noted the importance of giving the school a team to pull for.

“It was an emotional weekend for the kids,” said Liner. “They all wanted to play the game tonight. They all were playing for their classmates tonight. It was good for the kids just to be in one place and be together tonight. I think for our school, for the fans, to have something to go to and be with their classmates was really important.”

Needham (14-2) led the entire way and held a 21-point lead at one moment late in the second quarter.

The Tigers, however, used their length to quiet the Rockets offense in the third quarter while Ezra Pemstein scored five points to pull Newton North within 51-38 heading into the final stanza.

An early fourth quarter John Donovan basket kept the Rockets lead at 13, 53-40, but Newton North followed by going on an 8-0 run.

Tom Andreae and Pemstein knocked down consecutive treys, and Aaron Cooley (18 points, 8 rebounds) hauled in an offensive rebound before laying it in to trim the deficit to 53-48 with just over four minutes to play.

Shaughnessy looked to quell the Tigers’ run, driving to the basket for two to put Needham back up seven.

Ethan Wright, however, answered with a three-pointer off a dribble handoff to pull Newton North back within 57-53 with 2:02 left.

The game’s most crucial sequence followed.

Out of a Newton North timeout, Shaughnessy gathered the ball at the top of the key, dribbled to his right once, and then launched a triple that swished in to give the Rockets back their seven-point edge.

A Cooley basket, and a Shaughnessy gave the Tigers a chance to make it a one-possession game in the game’s final 90-seconds.

Michael Klemm, however, made what turned out to the be the defensive play of the game swiping the ball away from Wright and slamming it home at the other end to seal an invigorating home win for the Rockets.

“Michael (Klemm) came out and did his thing,” said Shaughnessy. “He had that huge dunk. He was locked in today.”

It was the Rockets who landed the opening punch.

Despite sitting on the bench with two early fouls Shaughnessy scored 17 over the opening 16 minutes.

When Shaughnessy was not the main facilitator of the Rockets offense, sophomore Will Dorion filled the void.

Dorion scored seven early points, while dishing out a pair of assists, to help put the Rockets up 19-9 after one.

The second quarter belonged to Needham.

After Newton closed the gap to 21-16, Shaughnessy scored seven straight including a left-wing trey as part of a 9-0 run to increase the Rockets lead to 14.

Wright tried quiet the Rockets' crowd with a triple, but Shaughnessy answered right back with one of his own.

Needham upped its second quarter lead to 21 on a Brandon Monheimer top of the key three-pointer but an Andreae corner triple and two Cooley free throws pulled Newton North to within 40-24 at the intermission.

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