With less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and Needham trailing by four points, junior co-captain Maddie Ganser, (10 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals) sank back-to-back shots, as well as two critical free-throws, which helped the Rockets earn their first win of the season against Dedham High School.
“We did a great job for 30 minutes, [but] we decided not to cover [Ganser] the last two minutes of the game,” said Dedham head coach Don Savi.
“She had to work hard all game long,” said Needham head coach Meagan Puopolo, when asked about Ganser’s last-minute heroics. “She did a good job of [handling Dedham’s pressure].”
The Rockets' 48-42 win on Friday also marked Puopolo’s first official victory as a high school basketball coach in Massachusetts. When asked to describe her emotions toward this particular contest, she said, “[Dedham and Needham] made it quite exciting for me.”
Despite losing the opening tip, Dedham scored first, but various turnovers and fouls hurt the Marauders and opened the door for Needham to earn their first lead of the contest, as senior co-captain Tory Waldstein, (12 points, four rebounds, three steals) connected on five of eight shots to give the Rockets a comfortable lead at intermission.
Entering the second half, Dedham took advantage of Needham’s mistakes, and went on an 8-2 run, which eventually was halted by the Rockets, who then regrew their lead in the fourth quarter.
“When we didn’t get an outside shot three times in a row [during the third quarter], then we said, ‘alright, let’s settle down and get the inside touch,’ and when they did that, that’s when we scored,” Puopolo said.
Dedham eventually retained their original lead, as senior co-captain Jenna Savi sank two back-to-back three pointers before Needham rallied in the closing minutes of regulation thanks to Ganser and Waldstein, who combined to tally the team’s final eight points of the contest.
“I just didn’t think we played well tonight,” said Savi. “We didn’t rebound, we didn’t do anything. We deserved to lose [this game].”
“It’s great for Dedham to be such great competition. It really helped us for our next game,” Puopolo said.
Both squads will return to the court on Tuesday, Dec. 23, as Needham travels to Brookline, while Dedham returns home to host Wellesley. Both games will tip-off at 6:30 p.m.