Pictured moving the ball up the floor last season against Braintree, senior guard/forward Caroline Klemm (3) will serve as one of two Needham High School girls basketball senior co-captains in 2020-2021. Photos by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Needham High School girls varsity basketball was one shot away from a Division I South championship last season. The Rockets led, 41-40, with 0:02 remaining in the sectional title game before Bridgewater-Raynham's Fiona Kelly drilled a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.
In a normal year, the Rockets would enter this season angry and motivated to get back to the sectional finals and take care of some unfinished business. Unfortunately, the climate we live in will not allow the Rockets that chance. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-2021 MIAA high school basketball season will be condensed to just a 10-game, conference-only schedule with no state tournament. Along with not being able to compete in a postseason, the Needham girls will also need to adjust to a plethora of rule changes. These changes include wearing masks at all times, no jump-balls, no inbounds plays from under the basket and telling a referee you intend to foul a player instead of actually fouling in the final minutes of a game.
Many athletes around the country are not even being given the chance to play at all this winter due to COVID. Even with all the adversity and no state championship to aim for, the Needham girls enter the 2020-2021 season ready to take advantage of the opportunity being given to them to compete. The Rockets still have a lot for which to play.
Leading Needham in 2020-2021 will be two senior co-captains in guard/forward Caroline Klemm and guard Madison Shaker.
"It’s definitely weird, but we are happy that we can at least have a few games," said Klemm when asked of her team's outlook heading into this unprecedented season. "Our goal is just to go out do our best and try and win every game we get to play."
In terms of the rule changes, Klemm says she and her teammates are making the proper adjustments and will be ready to go, come January.
"Our first time playing in masks was definitely hard, but we adjusted pretty quickly and we are coming up with new plays for inbounds," said Klemm. "We were actually happy about the last one, because it’s nice that the refs will know we are trying to foul so they will call them quickly. Obviously, this season isn’t ideal, but we are doing our best to make it as normal and as fun as possible."
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.