The Needham Rockets girls basketball team stormed back from a 14 point halftime deficit to dispatch the host Vineyarders on Friday by a score of 55-42. A full-court zone press was the key factor in a 28-point fourth-quarter explosion that sealed the game for the Rockets.
The non-league contest started well for the home team. Senior captain Molly DeBettencourt hit her first three-point attempt, on her way to 10 first-period points. Strong rebounding by Vineyard senior Rose Engler and a height advantage on defense complemented Molly’s offense, and the hosts led 14-8 after one period.
Late in that first quarter Needham made two changes that would pay big dividends. They went to a full-court zone press and inserted sophomore Kiara McIntyre into the lineup. With Kiara and fellow guards Marianna Jantzen and Lily Charter spearheading the press, Needham shut down the Vineyard offense. Meanwhile, the same trio ignited the offense. Rapid ball movement, quick cuts, and aggressive rebounding resulted in open shots and layups. The game was tied 14-14 at the half.
The Vineyarders rallied in the third quarter. They were handling the press well, and again using their height advantage to create turnovers on defense. A 34-27 Vineyard lead going into the final period seemed reasonably safe. Then all hell broke loose.
Following an early exchange of baskets — the hosts still in the lead — the Rockets went into overdrive. In a three-minute span of triple-teaming, board crashing, and hot shooting, they put 15 points on the board while allowing the Vineyarders few open shots. Kiara McIntyre was in the middle of it all, registering three steals, a layup, and two three-pointers. When the dust settled, the visitors had a seven-point lead and control of the game. They would finish the period with 28 points and a 55-42 victory.
The Vineyarders, now 5 and 11 on the season, were led by Molly DeBettencourt and Rose Engler, with 15 and 12 points respectively. For the 11-and-4 Rockets, four players chipped in eight or more points, with Marianna Jantzen (16) and Kiara McIntyre (12) leading the way.
The girls are back in action at home on Wednesday, Feb. 7, against league rival Bishop Stang. Game time is 4:30.