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By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The Needham and Walpole High School girls varsity basketball teams met for the third and final time this 2019-2020 season on Tuesday night with both teams looking to secure a victory and take the season series. Needham defeated Walpole, 44-28, back on December 18. The Rebels (9-4, 5-3) served up some revenge with a 56-48 win against the Rockets (10-2, 7-1) 10 days later in the Rivard Holiday Classic, leading us to Tuesday’s rubber match.
Behind a double-double by junior forward Caroline Klemm (game-high 21 points, 14 rebounds), as well as 14 points from senior captain and point guard Kiki McIntyre, the Rockets fought their way to a 54-46 victory. Junior guard Madison Shaker also led Needham with 10 points. Senior captain and point guard Sydney Scales (17 points) and senior captain and forward Ainsley Dundon (10 points) led Walpole.
Needham began the game on a 5-0 run, countered by a 9-3 run by Walpole, thanks to a pair of layups by Scales and a 3-pointer by freshman guard Brooke Walonis (eight points). Klemm scored back-to-back buckets with a layup and a 2-point floater in the final minute to give Needham back the lead at the end of one quarter at 12-9.
McIntyre piloted a 9-3 run for the Rockets to begin the second quarter, banking in a layup before shooting home a pair of free throws to put Needham ahead, 21-14. A 3-pointer by Walonis cut the deficit to 21-17 for Walpole. Klemm countered with a layup in the final minute, but a pair of late free throws by Scales cut the deficit to 23-19 for Walpole at halftime.
A 3-point play by Scales early in the third quarter gave Walpole a 28-27 lead. Free throws by sophomore guard Avery Johnson (five points) put Needham back in front at 29-28. A 3-pointer by Klemm and a layup by McIntyre bulked the Needham lead to 34-28. A 3-pointer by Dundon cut the deficit back to three points for Walpole at 34-31 before a layup by Scales made it a one-point game at 34-33. Needham finished the quarter on a quick 6-0 run, thanks to a layup and free-throw by McIntyre, as well as a 3-point play by Shaker. The Rockets carried a 40-33 lead into the final quarter.
A quick two from Dundon cut the deficit to 40-35 for Walpole early in the fourth. Five straight from Klemm via a pair of lay-ups and a free throw, however, allowed Needham to bulk its lead to nine at 45-36 with just over four minutes to play. Walpole did not go down quietly, however, as a 3-pointer by Scales cut the deficit to 48-41 with 3:16 remaining. Sophomore Natalie Griffin drilled a 3-pointer moments later to make it a five-point game at 51-46. That would be the closest the Rebels would get, however, as free throws by Shaker and McIntyre in the final 15 seconds allowed Needham to ice the 54-46 victory.
Needham will look to continue its winning trend when the Rockets travel to Weymouth on January 31. Walpole will try and get back on track against Braintree the same night.
For funny and insightful sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram @flano0.