[ccfic caption-text format="plaintext"]
By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The Needham and Walpole High School varsity girls basketball teams met on Wednesday night for their lone meeting of 2016-2017. The Rockets (4-4) were able to contain Walpole’s most lethal offensive weapon, Kelly Fogarty (16 points), and gutted out a big 43-40 win over the Rebels (5-2) to get back to .500.
With Kelly Fogarty entering Wednesday night’s match coming off of back-to-back 26-plus point performances in the Sue Rivard Holiday Classic against Brockton and Oliver Ames, the Rockets knew that they had to contain the lethal University of Maine commit in order to match the Rebels point-for-point. Through incredible pressure in the back court as well as double-teaming Fogarty throughout the majority of the night, the Rockets were able to hold the star shooter to just 16 points, compared to her average of well over 24 per game.
The Rockets got out to a fast start on offense, going on a 15-2 run out of the gates, highlighted by two three-pointers by Maeve Barker, to enter the second quarter ahead by 12. Walpole, in turn, went on a 16-5 run in quarter two, highlighted by seven points (two three-pointers, one free throw) from Fogarty, cutting the deficit to 20-19 at the half.
Needham’s Kara Petronio came out of the break on fire, hitting a shot at the buzzer at the end of the third quarter to reclaim the lead at 31-30 for Needham after Walpole took the lead. Petronio’s buzzer-beating two-pointer was part of her 14 second-half points (18 total), as the Rockets were able to build their lead to 38-32 midway through the fourth quarter.
Swift ball movement by Marianna Jantzen allowed the Rockets to preserve the lead late, as Walpole played the foul game and forced Needham to earn their points at the free throw line. Jantzen and Petronio were clutch for the Rockets in the final seconds of the game, hitting four of six foul shots. Leading 43-40 with less than 10 seconds remaining, the Rockets were able to hold off one last rush up the floor and heave by Fogarty that went off the backboard, holding on for the three-point upset victory.