July 22, 2024

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Cloonan, Rockets Start 2024 With Impressive Win over Wamps

January 5, 2024 • The Needham Boys Basketball team jumped out to a big lead and never looked back.

During the 2023 part of this season, Needham Rockets Varsity Boys Basketball had some slow starts in their games, but on Friday night at the A Gym, they scored early and often, then rolling to a 59-38 victory over Bay State Conference rival Braintree. Senior Guard Brian Cloonan led the way with 25 points, as well as six rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, as the Rockets improved to 5-1 on the season.

Needham started the 2023 portion of their schedule with four straight wins over Bay State Conference foes, beating Milton, Weymouth, Brookline and most recently at Wellesley 64-46 on December 22nd. During the holiday break, they hosted powerhouse Xaverian at home, falling 70-58. That point total was the least Needham had all season, though the 59 over Braintree Friday was their lowest in a win this season. The 38 points given up, however, is tied for the least amount the team’s defense has allowed, matching their season opening win over Milton, 68-38 back on December 12th.

Coming out of the gate, Needham jumped out to an 8-2 lead, with Cloonan finding Campbell Keyes for two. The Rockets dominated throughout the first eight minutes, leading 18-5 at the end of the opening quarter. Cloonan had six points in that opening frame, then added ten more in the second, connecting on back to back three pointers. With 16 at that point, Cloonan had staked Needham to a 32-7 lead with three and a half minutes to go until halftime.

Braintree finally made a run, scoring 11 straight points, including two straight hoops by Josh Hankinson, then a three pointer by Theo Moore, cutting the lead to 34-16. But the Rockets finished strong, taking a 38-18 lead to the break. Cloonan had 18 points to lead Needham, while Moore had 7 to lead the Wamps.

Although Braintree continued to inch closer in the third quarter, poor free throw shooting started to be their undoing, as well as another hot streak from Cloonan, who added seven more points in the quarter, giving him the 25 total points. On the game, the Wamps shot just 6-15 from the charity stripe. Needham only took one free throw in the entire second half, but also struggled from the line, finishing at just 4-8.

Needham scored just four points in the final quarter, though that ultimately mattered very little in a 21 point victory. Head Coach Paul Liner emptied his bench down the stretch, with fan favorite Sam Croopnick, a Junior, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out an assist. No Rockets other than Cloonan reached double figures in points, though Keyes and Chris Morrison both had 8, while Jackson Shaw added 6. Moore finished with 12 to lead Braintree.

The Rockets will head to Walpole for a matchup with the Timberwolves on Tuesday, January 9th, before going to North Andover for a rematch of last year’s State Semifinals on Thursday, January 11th. Needham will return home on Tuesday, January 16th for what is always a huge rivalry game against Newton North.

Kristen Connors and Mike Levin broadcasted the game live from the A Gym and we have highlights from their broadcast here:

 
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You can watch the rebroadcast this Monday at 7pm on-air on our HD and Community Channels, as well as online at needhamchannel.org.

 

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