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Rockets Review: Boys Hockey, Basketball Scheduled For Post-Season Matchups This Week

A weekly roundup of Needham High School sports action, Feb. 17-26

By Micah Hauben, NHS Director of Athletics

The boys hockey team will face St. John's High School (Shrewsbury) tonight in the Super 8 Tournament at Merrmack College. The game will start at 5:45 p.m., and the student fan bus will leave at 4:15 p.m. (Check with the high school office for details about attending.) Needham is seeded eighth, while St. John's is seeded ninth.

Also in post-season action this week, the varsity boys basketball team will play Taunton High School in the Division 1 South Tournament on Thursday, March 1 at 7 p.m. The student fan bus will leave at 5:30 p.m. Needham is seeded 10th, while Taunton is seeded seventh.

For full bracket information and tournament updates, visit the MIAA Tournament website at www.miaa.ezstream.com.

Boys and Girls Indoor Track and Field

Head girls coach Chris Van Cott provided the following write-up on the boys and girls teams' performance at the MIAA All-State Championships on Sunday, Feb. 26:

The boys and girls indoor track and field teams capped off their season in fine fashion today, competing at the MIAA All-State Championships. Competing first for the Rockets was senior Ben Lueders in the 1,000 meters placing 18th in 2:36.75. Junior Kevin Walsh finished 17th in the 300, running 37.16. The boys 4x800 relay consisting of Lueders, junior Tyler Hagen and sophomores Daniel Alpert and Tommy Kelley placed 20th in a time of 8:24.77. Finishing off the season with a bang, the girls 4x400 relay team of senior Alison Pildner, juniors Hallie Armstrong and Robin Kelly and sophomore Kira Oberle placed ninth, lowering their season best and school record to 4:06.32.

Van Cott also had the following to say about the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 2 State Championships held Thursday, Feb. 16:

Fifteen members of the girls team and 12 members of the boys team represented Needham High School in a variety of events resulting in a rewriting of the record books. The boys finished 20th and the girls 21st out of 61 teams represented in the division.

Senior captain Ben Lueders continued his strong season by placing seventh in the 1,000 meters. His time of 2:35.73 narrowly broke the existing school record by 7/100ths of a second. Junior captain Kevin Walsh placed sixth in the 300 meters in 36.79 seconds, also breaking the school record in the process. Finally, the boys 4x800 meter relay team consisting of Lueders, junior Tyler Hagen and sophomores Daniel Alpert and Adrian Amaya combined for a sixth-place finish running 8:22.90.

First to score on the night for the girls team was junior Hallie Armstrong, coming back from illness that sidelined her one week earlier at the conference championships. Armstrong placed sixth in the 1,000 meters with a time of 3:09.26. Next to score for the Lady Rockets was the 4x800 meter relay team consisting of senior captains Lily Corcoran and Olivia Nolan as well as sophomores Sammy Lerner and Rachel Blaustein. The quartet placed eighth in a time of 10:07.35. To close out the night, the girls 4x400 meter relay team ran a stellar race, placing fifth in the stacked field.  Senior captain Alison Pildner, juniors Robin Kelly and Armstrong and sophomore Kira Oberle finished in 4:08.46 to break their own school record set earlier this season.

Boys Swimming and Diving

NHS boys swimming and diving wrapped up another successful season at the Division 1 State Championship Meet at Harvard University’s Blodgett Pool on Friday, Feb. 17. The Rockets finished tied for 15th overall, scoring 65 points. This meet marked the end of an era for the swimming Class of 2012, a group that helped propel the Rockets to a 31-4 dual meet record and two Bay State Conference championships during their four years.

Wrestling

Although the team was unable to advance out of the quarter-final round of the Team Tournament Championship at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell on Sunday, Feb. 19, three Rockets competed on Friday, Feb. 24 in the individual All-State Championships at Salem High School. Senior Cam Chisholm and juniors Mark Carroll and Mikey Khibkin all represented the Rockets as the best wrestlers from all-divisions in the state squared off in Salem.

Boys Ice Hockey

The 10th-ranked Rockets headed out to the Springfield Cathedral Tournament riding a solid winning streak, having beaten Weymouth, Braintree and Newton North on the road over the past three games. Taking on the hosts on Wednesday night, Needham was unable to find the net, and although senior goalie Connor Murray made 30 saves, some of the highlight reel variety, the only goal of the game for either team, coming at the start of the second period, proved to be the winner, as Springfield Cathedral won 1-0.

The consolation round on Thursday did not get any easier for Needham, as they met up with Hamden High School—last year's state of Connecticut runner-up—who in the first game of the tournament took Massachusetts state No. 1 Malden Catholic to overtime before losing 4-3 in the waning moments. It was a battle from the beginning as the Rockets used 2 goals from senior Timmy Parlato, along with 3 assists from senior DJ Walsh and 1 goal and 1 assist from freshman James Fisher to earn a 3-3 tie in regulation.  

After a scoreless overtime, the teams went to a shoot-out round, where Needham was able to come out on top.

Although the boys earned the thrilling victory, overtime wins do not count for Massachusetts state playoff rankings, so heading into the MIAA seeding meetings on Saturday, Feb. 25, the Rockets carried a 16-4-1 mark with them.

The Super 8 seeding meeting took place at the MIAA offices on Saturday, Feb. 25, where Needham earned the No. 8 seed and a match-up with St. John's High School (Shrewsbury) in the opening play-in game of the tournament on Monday night, Feb. 27 at 5:45 p.m. at Merrimack College.

Boys Basketball

Boys basketball finished up the regular season on an impressive run, defeating Braintree on the road in overtime before handing Newton North only their second loss of the year (by 32 points) on Thursday, Feb. 16, beating EMASS top 10 team Stoughton in the first round of the Walpole Tournament on Sunday, Feb. 19 and capping off a 15-5 season by defeating Xaverian in the tournament final on Monday, Feb. 20.

For their efforts, the boys earned the No. 10 seed in the Division 1 South Tournament and will head to the No. 7 seed Taunton High School on Thursday, March 1 for a 7 p.m. game.  

Girls Ice Hockey

Although the team did not finish with enough wins to qualify for the postseason, the Rockets finished the season on a strong run, coming back to defeat Newton North 3-2 on Senior Night on Feb. 15 and then taking down EMASS top-20 and BSC rival Wellesley 3-1 at St. Sebastian's on Friday, Feb. 17. Freshman forward KT Belval got the scoring started early in the first period with a break-away goal and capped off the game with an empty-netter with less than a minute to play.

Due to injuries, Newton South had to forfeit the game scheduled for Monday, Feb. 20 over break, so Needham racked up three wins in a row for the first time this winter.

Wrapping up the season was the team's annual trip to play Barnstable, who is also ranked top-20 in EMASS, and although the girls battled tough, they could not get their fourth in row, dropping the contest 4-2.

The future is bright for the Rockets, as a number of underclassmen stepped up in the final weeks of the season, and if they can pick up where they left off this season, this time next year they will hopefully be waiting, along with the boys, for their tournament seeding.

Gymnastics

Competing for the Rockets in the State Individual Championships, sophomore Maggie Nieto and junior Maria Smirnov each performed well and placed in the top 10. Nieto tied for eighth on floor and placed eighth on beam with a  a score of 8.975, while Smirnov placed ninth on beam with a 8.97.

Cheerleading

After qualifying out of the Bay State Conference Championship, the NHS cheerleading team will compete in the Regionals Tournament at Dartmouth High School on Sunday, March 4. Competition order and times have not yet been set, but check out this website for updated information to be posted this week.

Check http://nhs.needham.k12.ma.us/athletics for Rocket Athletic news, updates, forms, links and complete team schedules.

Rockets Review is a weekly update distributed by email by Needham High School Director of Athletics Micah Hauben and published with permission on Needham Patch. Additional athletics information can be found on the NHS Athletic Department Web site.

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