Sunday, March 4, 2018

Needham Rolls Past New Bedford into D1 South Semifinals

By Kyle Schroeder (@kyschroeder81)

Needham, Mass. - Needham and New Bedford were supposed to face off in round two of the MIAA division one south tournament Friday night. However, a rain storm with high winds rolled into the New England area, which cancelled the game on Friday and again on Saturday when there was no power at Needham High School.

It was clear that the delay had one team starving to get on the court. That team was the Needham Rockets, who blitzed New Bedford with 17 straight points to start the game and never looked back. The Rockets won by a score of 82-48, and will take on Brockton in the Division 1 South semifinals on Tuesday night in Taunton.

“We didn't play Friday, didn't play Saturday, so the kids were definitely ready to go today, and a quick start at home was really important,” said Needham coach Paul Liner.

Needham looked like a team that benefited greatly from the two cancellations, as the Rockets sliced through New Bedford's zone defense in the first quarter with no problem whatsoever. In the 17-0 start, the Rockets scored five baskets and assisted on every single one. Senior forward Brandon Monheimer hit two three pointers, sophomore guard Will Dorian hit one, and seniors Michael Klemm and Thomas Shaughnessy each had one two-point basket.

It seemed as if the Rockets new exactly what the Whalers were going to throw at them.

“We talked about setting the tone for the game early and sharing the ball, and we certainly did that,” said Liner.

Needham dominated on the other side of the court as well only giving up four points in the first quarter. The Rockets made New Bedford work for every shot they got, and the Whalers were unable to generate easy looks in the first quarter.

Down 19-4 at the end of the first, New Bedford looked to be in deep trouble. However, the Whalers were able to shift the momentum at the start of the second quarter with their offense.

The Whalers started the second quarter on a 13-5 run to close the deficit to 24-17. Senior guard Elijah Diaz started the run with a pull up three pointer. Senior guard Elias Perez followed that shot up with a mid-range jumper and then senior captain Trae-Rezendes-Cross scored three straight baskets with two of them coming from beyond the arc.

The Rockets squashed this momentum in resounding fashion as they ended the half on a 11-2 run to take a 37-19 lead into intermission. The back-breaking part of this run came with less than five seconds left in the half as Shaughnessy scooted in for a layup and then senior forward Michael Klemm snatched the inbounds pass and scored as time expired. Klemm finished the game with 12 points with 10 of them coming in the first half.

Both teams exchanged baskets in the third quarter as Needham's lead never got below 17.

Needham put the nail in the coffin to start the fourth quarter using a 22-5 run which ballooned the lead to 34. Monheimer was the key man in the run scoring nine points with six of them coming on three pointers. Monheimer finished the game with a game high 23 points and five treys further proving how impactful his shooting can be for the Rockets.

“He stretches the court for us and Thomas can create so much space, so Brandon will get looks and he shot the ball great tonight,” said Liner.

Shaughnessy only scored 13 points, a bit low by his lofty standards, but he made his presence known as a play maker, sprinkling in nine assists. Dorian gave Needham another reliable scorer as he dropped in 12 points.

With Brockton looming on Tuesday, Needham says it doesn't need to change a thing.

“It will take the same recipe as today. Share the ball and play team basketball on both ends of the court,” said Liner.

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