Wamps freeze Lady-Rockets in South finals

Despite coming up short in the South finals on Friday night in Taunton against rival Braintree, 2018-2019 was a banner year for senior captain Marianna Jantzen (pictured) and the Needham High girls basketball team with 18 wins and multiple players likely to earn all-scholastic honors. Photos by Michael Flanagan

By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor

After finishing first and second in the Bay State Herget Division, it was fitting that the two teams left standing in Division II South for girls basketball were Braintree and Needham.

The Wamps swept the regular season series with Needham with a 56-43 win on January 11, followed by a 49-41 win at Needham on February 8 to claim the Herget Division title. Despite the two defeats against Braintree, Needham entered the Division II Tournament confidently after winning the Reilly Winter Classic with victories over Westwood (41-28) and rival Wellesley (34-32), with a thrilling comeback in the final minutes.

Following their strong finish to the regular season, Needham was seeded No. 4 on the left side of the bracket and Braintree at No. 3 on the right. With Wellesley seeded at No. 2 on the right, the potential of a Needham/Wellesley, part IV, with a trip to states on the line, was the first thing that caught the eye following the bracket’s release.

However, the potential of a Needham/Braintree part III was also extremely appealing to those who’ve followed the Herget Division throughout the season.

After a 40-26 first-round win over Brockton, the Lady-Rockets earned a convincing 57-41 win on their home floor against Bishop Feehan to advance to the South semifinals against top-seeded Bridgewater-Raynham. Thanks to a dominant defensive performance, Needham upset the No. 1 Trojans with a 47-33 win to advance to the sectional finals.

On the other side of the bracket, Needham got their wish with Braintree and Wellesley meeting up for the right to move on and play the Rockets for the South title. The Wamps took care of business and advanced with a 55-42 win to set up an All-Herget Division final between Needham and Braintree.

On Friday night, the teams met at Taunton High School. The Wamps came prepared with a plan, and that plan was to lock down guard Kiki McIntyre. Thanks to some great defensive play by the Wamps, McIntyre was held to just seven points throughout the first three quarters. With McIntyre under wraps, Needham’s offense struggled to crack through Braintree’s stifling zone defense. The Wamps carried a 23-12 lead into the second half and maintained an 11-point lead after three quarters at 34-23. A late push by Needham came up short and Braintree earned their third win of the season against Needham, 50-34, to win the South title and advance to states.

For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0.

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