The Needham boys’ hoops team has shown they’ve been one of the top teams in Eastern Massachusetts so far to begin the season. To start the season, the Rockets rallied off four consecutive wins over Natick, Walpole, Milton and Xaverian.

The Needham boys' hoops team has shown they’ve been one of the top teams in Eastern Massachusetts so far to begin the season.

To start the season, the Rockets rallied off four consecutive wins over Natick, Walpole, Milton and Xaverian.

“We have been playing team basketball and making the extra pass,” coach Paul Liner said. “The team is averaging 16 assists per game. They have really believed in our, “I have a shot, you have a better shot” philosophy. Our defense has also been outstanding this year. “

In the Walpole game, the Rockets outlasted the Rebels 59-50, behind a game-high 19 points from junior point guard Will Dorion. Needham senior center Matt Smith (13 points) also starred in the win, securing paint and bringing the noise to the rim on a couple of instances.

In their most impressive win of the season, the Rockets hosted Catholic Conference powerhouse Xaverian on Dec. 29. Needham dominated the contest from beginning to end, and ran away with a 62-46 victory over the Hawks.

In their first loss of the season against reigning Division 2 state champion TechBoston, the Rockets took a 31-16 lead going into halftime behind Dorion’s 18 points in the first half.

That lead would quickly disappear in the fourth quarter, as the overpowering TechBoston offense found a way to defeat the Rockets 63-54 on Needham’s home floor.

According to Liner, there were a lot of lessons to take away from the loss.

“I think we need to continue to be tougher mentally and physically,” Liner said. “We made some turnovers against Tech Boston that really hurt us late in the game. Additionally, we need to be focused on our free throws, talking on defense, and reading the right play.”

Dorion has been a key player on both sides of the floor, averaging the most points on the Rockets roster. Smith has been their guy in their front court, scooping up rebounds and defending well in the paint.

According to Liner, guard Kyle Sullivan has been a great member of the supporting cast for the Rockets this season.

"Will Dorion has been outstanding for us this season, along with Matt Smith who has rebounded great,” Liner said. “Kyle Sullivan is one of the most improved players in our league.”

The Rockets have relied on team chemistry and positive attitudes in practice and games so far, which has done them quite well considering they have started the season with a 4-1 record.

“You sometimes learn more from a tough loss than from a win. Tech Boston is a great team,” Liner said. “We need to have a great practice, learn from the game film, and move on to the next game.”

Needham will be back in action on Tuesday, Jan. 8 when they host Bay State Conference opponent Weymouth. They’ll be at home again on Friday, January 11th when they host Braintree.

“We’ve had some outstanding team chemistry this year and the team has a gritty attitude and a will to compete,” Liner said.

Adam Nazzaro can be reached at 781-433-8338 or anazzaro@wickedlocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @anazz93.