Junior Henderson Parker (11) takes the ball to the basket. (Josh Perry/Hometown Weekly)
BY JOSH PERRY (@Josh_Perry10)
The Needham High boys’ basketball team started the season with four wins in its opening four games, but that 100 percent record ended on New Year’s Eve in a matinee against Xaverian.
The Rockets offense struggled against the Hawks, particularly in the second half, and Xaverian walked away with a 41-39 victory thans to four free throws by Michael Gillespie in the final minute.
Needham had two chances in the final seconds but both shots fell short.
With the afternoon sun shining in the faces of the Needham players as the game got underway, Xaverian was able to jump out to an early lead. Needham rallied behind a three-pointer from Matthew Shaker and four points from Thomas Shaughnessy to hold an 11-10 lead after one quarter.
In the second, Needham extended its lead. Kyle Tobasky came off the bench to knock down a pair of shots from beyond the arc for six of his team-high 10 points, and Brandon Monheimer added another five points to make it 26-22 Rockets at the half.
The offenses for both teams shut down in the third. The teams combined for only 11 points (6-5 Needham) with Tobasky again providing the lone spark with his third three of the game.
The fourth was not much better for Needham, which only managed 13 points in the second half. Shaughnessy buried a three, but Gillespie and Thomas Mogan helped bring the Hawks back. Gillespie hit two free throws to tie the game at 39-39 and then hit another pair in the closing seconds for the win.
Needham (4-1) will get back into Bay State Conference action this week with games against Weymouth and Braintree.
(Editor's Note - The Rockets rebounded to beat Weymouth 47-30 on Tuesday night and are now 5-1 this season.)