February 3, 2024
• Needham Boys Basketball beat the Wildcats at the A Gym, while Boys Hockey took the win in a thriller over at Babson.
It was a Needham vs. Weymouth weekend, starting on Friday night, as the Rockets Boys Basketball team held off a late rally to beat the Wildcats 73-61 at the A Gym. On Saturday, the Boys Hockey team found themselves tied late into the 3rd period, but escaped with the 4-3 win thanks to the game winning goal by junior, Matt Rutter.
In Friday’s night hoops matchup, Needham jumped out to an early lead thanks to some lights out three point shooting, with Brian Cloonan hitting a pair and Devin Dellamarggio nailing one early and the Rockets taking an 11-6 advantage. Needham would finish the first quarter hitting 6-8 from long distance, half of those by Cloonan, who had nine points, and a 20-11 lead at the end of those first eight minutes.
Cloonan, a Senior for the Rockets, had 17 points at the end of the first half on 3-5 shooting from three point range. Needham led 39-21, having hit 7-13 from long distance. Another Senior, Devin Dellamarggio, was 3-4 from downtown, finishing with 11 points in the half. Edric Louissant had 12 points for Weymouth, who struggled from the free throw line in the first half, hitting just 5-of-10.
Weymouth went on a run to start the second half, hitting three from long distance and pulling within 12, 46-34 with 3:02 left in the third. Gil Dolan converted a four point play for the Wildcats, nailing a three and drawing a foul, then hitting his free throw. Weymouth hit all seven of their shots from the line in the third quarter. But Dellamarggio hit a pair of threes, then Campbell Keyes hit a buzzer beating shot from beyond the arc, as the Rockets took a 60-39 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Needham Junior Alex Dudley made some big contributions for the Rockets, scoring four points in the third and fourth quarters, finishing with eight points and seven rebounds. Cloonan sat most of the third quarter with three fouls, but still managed to score a basket late in the third and adding four more in the fourth, finishing with a team high 23 points. Dellamarggio added 17 points, along with six rebounds.
Louissant led a Wildcats comeback in the fourth, as he added 12 more points to his 14 in the first three quarters, finishing with a game high 26. He hit a pair of threes in the fourth as Weymouth tried to cut into the Needham lead, but never got back within single digits. After hitting just five of their first ten fouls shots, the Wildcats then hit 16 of their next 18, 9-of-11 in the fourth quarter. On the game, Weymouth was 21-of-28 from the charity stripe.
The Rockets struggled from the free throw line, as after hitting their first six straight, they missed 9 of their next 11, finishing the game 8-of-17. But they were money from beyond the arc, hitting 11-of-22 for the game. Cloonan was 4-of-8, Dellamarggio 5-of-6. With the win, Needham, who dropped one spot in the MIAA D1 Power Rankings, to #12 as of Friday morning, improves to 9-4 on the season. They will hit the road for two straight, Tuesday, February 6th at Framingham and Friday, February 9th at Braintree, before coming home on Tuesday, February 13th to host Walpole.
On Saturday, Needham Boys Hockey hosted the Wildcats hoping to avenge a 3-2 loss early in the season. They would hop out to a 1-0 lead off a rebound goal by Junior, Joe Kajusnki. However, it wouldn’t take too long for Weymouth to answer. With 8 minutes to go in the 1st period the wildcats had a break away, and Johnny Bell was able to put it past Needham goalie, Conor Espinola, tying things up at 1.
Near the end of the 1st, Weymouth got called for a roughing penalty, giving the rockets the first power play opportunity of the game. It would only take them 40 seconds to take advantage, as junior Sean Concannon would fire in a long shot to put Needham back on top, 2-1.
The second period would stay the same mostly throughout, with both goalies making several saves. With two minutes and 30 seconds left in the period, junior Tommy Peabody fired a shot from way far out, burying it over the shoulder of the Weymouth goalie, Grady Salfity. That would give the rockets the first 2 score lead in the game heading into the 3rd period.
The final period is where Weymouth would come alive. With 8 minutes remaining, Jack Browning would put back a rebound right in front of the net, making it a 3-2 game. Just over 2 minutes later, Bell would find another opportunity, launching a shot from just over the blue line, catching the Needham defense and Espinola off guard, it would go in to tie things up at 3 a piece.
The game would stay tied until 51 seconds to go. Niall O’Malley would come away with the puck behind Needham’s net and take it up center ice. He would leave it for Sean Riley, who would immediately find Rutter on the opposite side with a wide open look at the goal, he buries it. Espinola would come up with another save at 10 seconds remaining, sealing the Rockets 4-3 victory.
Despite giving up 2 unanswered goals in the 3rd period, the Rockets secure the win improving them to 6-6-1 on the season. Conor Espinola, who has an 88% save percentage on the season would collect 22 saves in the win. As of now, the Rockets stand at #25 in the MIAA Division one Power Rankings, still in great contention for a playoff spot. They will head on the road for their next two contests, February 7th at Framingham and then a make up game with Newton North the following night. They will not return to Babson until Valentines day, with a matchup against Walpole.