NEWTON, Mass. -- The Tigers may have shown some nerves at first.
It was senior night at Newton North (19-1), and the home team came out a bit disjointed, as they missed a couple of point blank shots, and turned the ball over five times in the opening minutes of their 78-57 win over Needham (12-5).
Tommy Mobley was responsible for two of those five early turnovers. He also missed a contested three from the corner, but after that, Newton North’s sharpshooter put on a show.
“It was such an emotional night for all of us seniors, so coming out of the gate we were going to be a little bit nervous,” admitted Mobley. “Early in the game a Needham defender fell down, I got an open look, and that kind of sparked the best night of my career.”
Despite the impressive list of accomplishments on his resume, Mobley did not exaggerate when he told ESPNBoston.com that this performance trumps them all.
After nailing a couple of open looks, Mobley started to increase the degree of difficulty. He hit a triple with a hand covering his entire field of vision, and with the clock winding down to the final seconds of the first quarter, launched a 38-footer from just beyond the timeline that caught nothing but the bottom of the net.
“He was in one of those zones tonight where guys were just standing around watching him,” said Tigers head coach Paul Connolly. “I’m a simple man. I don’t really get wowed by too much, but he wowed me a few times tonight.”
The Rockets trailed 47-26 at the break, but fought back with a quick 9-2 run to start the second half.
Of course, it was Mobley who responded for the Tigers. He drove in for a couple of layups to push the lead back to 20, and a few possessions later, was forced to launch another 35-footer with the shot clock winding down. Considering he shot 13 of 14 from the field on his way to a game-high 42 points, it goes without saying that he knocked that one down as well.
“In those situations, I had to take the shot, and it was sort of a heat check,” Mobley said about firing when the clock is running down. “Those deep shots are about luck and feel, and I don’t really think about it, I’m just open.”
He continued, “Once every few months I’ll have one of those days when I’m practicing and I can’t miss, and I’m just lucky that it happened tonight.”
Record Setting Performance: Mobley shared the victory with fellow senior captain Brett Stanton, who he said he’s been playing with since fourth grade.
This contest marked their 90th game as Tigers, and provided the opportunity for Mobley to pass his brother Greg Kelley as the second-leading scorer in Newton North history.
Sitting on 34 points to start the fourth quarter, Mobley didn’t waste much time as he curled around a screen and nailed another 35-footer. The next trip down the court, he hit a triple from the very same spot that vaulted him over his older brother in the record books.
“I knew I was close to passing him, but I didn’t think it would happen tonight,” Mobley said afterwards. “It’s so incredible to have so much fan support in this community, and I’m so thankful I could have a good game in this situation.”
A Shot For Life: That community, along with Newton North’s notoriously fanatical supporters, contributed to a great cause by hosting A Shot For Life Benefit Night.
Founded in 2011 by Mike Slonina, who is now a senior at Quinnipiac University, A Shot For Life, Inc. raises funds for brain cancer research.
Mobley participated in the Shot For Life Challenge this past August. He is well acquainted with Slonina, and supportive of the cause.
“It’s so much fun to do this in front of Mike [Slonina]. He’s so committed to helping other people. He looks after me, he looks after everyone in the Shot For Life program, and he looks out for thousands of people he’s never even met.”
Thanks to the efforts of Newton North’s “Sixth Man” fan base, the school was able to raise over $1,500 for cancer research through t-shirt sales over the last two days. Needham assisted with the fundraising process, and Rockets fans earned some bragging rights by beating the Tigers fans in a three-point Shot For Life Challenge during halftime.
“It was extremely gracious of them to give us this stage,” said Slonina. “They do an unbelievable job with the crowd every game, and that’s really why I wanted Newton North, because there’s so much passion here. Even Tommy [Mobley], Sam [Jefferson], and Brett Stanton chipped in and sold t-shirts during lunch, and I’m really thankful to the entire Newton North community for their support.”
Newton North 78, Needham 57
NN 27 20 17 14 --- 78
ND 14 12 13 18 --- 57
Newton North – Tommy Mobley (42 points, 8 of 9 from 3PT range)
Newton North – Ethan Wright (11 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists)
Newton North – Nate Hollenberg (4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists)
Needham – Henderson Parker (14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 blocks)
Needham – Aram Ouligian (14 points, 2 rebounds)
Needham – Jack Abelrding (9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists)