(VIDEO) Shaughnessy Leads Needham to OT Win over Newton North
By Nate Weitzer for Mass Prep Stars
NEEDHAM, Mass. – In a battle between two of the best players in the bay state and two of the best teams in the Bay State Conference, Thomas Shaughnessy displayed an indomitable will.
Needham’s junior guard embraced the task of guarding Newton North superstar Ethan Wright, chasing the Tigers guard all over the court and denying him the ball. Yet Shaughnessy still found the energy to carry the Rockets offense down the stretch and lead his team to a 59-52 victory over their rivals in overtime.
“Thomas [Shaughnessy] is the best we’ve had here in a long time,” said Needham head coach Paul Liner. “He plays with a next play mentality and does all the little things. He made a great box out at the end of overtime and he really willed us to victory.”
A dangerous lefty shooter with a deft handle and strong build, Shaughnessy poured in 26 points in the win. He also grabbed eight rebounds, including a critical defensive board with the Rockets up 51-45 and just over one minute left in overtime.
Of course, he also got some help from his supporting cast.
Needham (11-1; 8-0) forward Brandon Monheimer (8 points, 7 rebounds) came up with a huge steal in the final seconds to get to the free throw line with the Rockets down 44-42. The junior didn’t wilt under the pressure of that moment, as he sunk both shots to send the game into an extra period.
Juniors Michael Klemm and Will Cooper along with seniors Connor Reidy and Matthew McKay also made key contributions down the stretch, but as his coach asserted time and time again, Shaughnessy was the difference.
“Thomas,” Liner replied when asked about the defensive strategy on Wright. “He looked at me and said I’ve got to guard [Wright]. Those two have known each other for a long time and [Shaughnessy] wanted the challenge of guarding him. Ethan [Wright]’s a fantastic player and we just tried to make him take tough shots. We made some adjustments in the second half, but the difference was Thomas.”
Wright (24 points, 13 rebounds) paced the Tigers to a 29-22 halftime lead with 10 points in the second quarter and 18 in the first half, while Shaughnessy got the Rockets going with 8 of their first 10 points.
Still, Needham’s coaches and players seemed to realize that they weren’t going to beat the Tigers without limiting the state’s leading scorer in Wright, so Shaughnessy stepped up and face-guarded Wright throughout the second half.
“Obviously, Ethan [Wright] is one of the best players in the state and we did what we had to do,” explained Shaughnessy. “I just wanted to keep him from touching the ball in the second half and I think I did a pretty good job.”
With Wright managing just two points over the third and fourth quarters, Shaughnessy and the Rockets were able to climb back into it and send the game into overtime.
In the extra period, Newton North (9-2; 6-2) struck first with a free throw, but Shaughnessy responded with a deep three-pointer to make it 47-45 and electrify the packed house at Needham High.
He would go on to add three more points at the free throw line while Mortenheimer hit a couple more clutch freebies as well. From there, it was simply a matter of the Rockets keeping their poise against the Tigers full court pressure to earn a statement win over their rivals.
“It’s up there,” Shaughnessy said when asked if this was the best game he’s ever been a part of. “It was a hell of a game and we played our butts off on defense in the second half. To be down seven at the half and come back shows character, so I’m proud of our team.”
He added, “Coach preaches that every game is 5 percent of our schedule, but this one means a little extra. Newton North is a huge rival for us and I hope that this win puts us on the map because we work our butts off and we deserve it.”
Stars Who Shined
Thomas Shaughnessy ‘18 G – He did just about everything for the Rockets and flashed plenty of intensity after making some big plays down the stretch.
Shaughnessy began his heroics with a pull-up three right before the end of the third quarter to make it 39-35 in favor of Newton North (video below).
He would add a steal and score to make it 42-39 with five minutes to play (video below) and neither team scored for the next four minutes until Shaughnessy added a pair of free throws.
Shaugnessy steals and scores. He's got 19 as the refs lose control of the game. NN 42, Needham 39 5 mins left pic.twitter.com/S1ZO7xVoSj— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) January 20, 2017
Then the junior provided his best defensive play of the game by stripping Ethan Wright near midcourt and getting to the free throw line to tie the game at 42.
And in the overtime, Shaughnessy flashed his limitless range with a clutch three-pointer from about 30 feet away from the basket.
Shaugnessy with a deep OT 3-pointer!
“I missed a bunch of shots but I tried to keep my head,” Shaughnessy recalled. “I wanted to keep shooting and do what I know I’m capable of doing, and fortunately I was able to knock it down.”
Brandon Monheimer‘18 G/F – A steady presence in the middle of the floor and clearly a poised performer, Monheimer hit the two biggest free throws of the night to send the game to overtime.
He also knocked down four free throws in overtime to help the Rockets build their lead and played solid defense throughout the contest.
Michael Klemm‘18 F – Another member of the Rockets promising junior class, Klemm did a little bit of everything in this game. The 6-foot-2 swing forward was all over the floor securing loose balls and he also contributed a clutch free throw in overtime to help Needham pull away.
Ethan Wright ‘18 G – While he struggled at times during the second half, Wright still lead the Tigers with 24 points and pulled down a game-high 13 boards in a losing effort.
For Tigers head coach Paul Connolly, Wright’s inability to keep scoring in the second half had a lot to do with the way the game was officiated, as physical play from both sides went unrequited.
Still, Wright had his opportunities in overtime, but he missed a breakaway dunk and another point blank layup in a sequence that could’ve cut the Rockets lead to one possession late.
Chris Matthews ‘18 G – The skilled Newton North guard left the game late with an apparent leg injury, but he was a critical spark for the Tigers with 11 points and 7 rebounds on the night.
Matthews began to show some of the aggressiveness that the coaching staff wants to see from him and he went on a 5-0 run by himself in the third quarter before Shaughnessy responded with five points of his own.
Needham opens Q3 with 5 straight points but Chris Matthews responds with 5 of his own. 34-27 Newton North pic.twitter.com/05yZqql54C— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) January 20, 2017
Matthews takes it to the rack for the finish.
Aaron Cooley ‘20 F – The freshman was nearly the story for the Tigers, as he came up with a jumper in the fourth quarter, a huge block on a driving Rockets player with the game tied at 42 late, and a critical defensive rebound that might have sealed the win for Newton North.
Yet he showed his inexperience by turning the ball over to set up Monheimer’s game-tying free throws.
“We’ve lost two games this year and both came down to turnovers in the final minutes,” Connolly lamented. “[Needham] earned it and Shaughnessy is just such a warrior that he willed his team to that win. But in a sense we gave it away because we didn’t take care of the basketball.”
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