TOWNSEND -- When North Middlesex's undefeated streak was halted at home on Monday night against Algonquin, it was uncertain just how it would respond in the next two games against Leominster and Wachusett. On Wednesday night, the Lady Patriots battled to a win over the Blue Devils. On Thursday, North Middlesex followed it up with a, 43-38, victory over a very athletic Wachusett lineup.
North Middlesex head coach Pat Murphy could not be more pleased with the direction his girls are taking.
"I don't know if that's as good as we can play, but it's pretty close," said a smiling Murphy. "I have another assistant coach other than Mark Roy. Elena Beauregard approached me before the game and said 'coach, why don't we sit in the zone for a little bit.' We went into the pre-game and played that soft 22. It was very effective in the first half. This week, we had a couple of great intense practices against Algonquin and Leominster to help prepare us for this game."
Three North Middlesex scorers recorded double-digit performances. Beauregard led the Lady Patriots with 13 points, nine of those points came from three-point range. Mackensey Farina turned in yet another double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Erin Antosh followed up her 16 point, 12 rebound performance against Leominster with 10 points and nine rebounds.
"When you take a very athletic, hard-nosed team like that and hold them to 38 points -- I am just ecstatic," Murphy said.
North Middlesex and Wachusett were in gridlock for much of the first quarter, until the final three minutes when Farina and Antosh started to heat up down in the blocks. Antosh scored four-out-of-six points in the Lady Pats' 6-0 run to end the quarter. North Middlesex led, 13-9, at the end of one.
In the second, North Middlesex's defense was tested by sharp-shooting Wachusett junior Maty Diabate (16 points, nine rebounds). Diabate, single-handedly spearheaded a 6-0 spurt by the Lady Mountaineers to start the second. Wachusett took its first lead of the game on a bounce-pass from Nikki DiPilla to Diabate, who coasted in for the finger-roll, 14-13. Two minutes later, North Middlesex responded with a commanding, 10-0, run of its own.
Antosh's presence down low and Farina's three-pointer helped put the Lady Patriots up, 29-16, at the half. A different Wachusett team emerged from the half, and it gave the Lady Patriots' defense a run for their money. Wachusett cut the lead to eight points early in the fourth, when Diabate penetrated the lane and was fouled. Diabate, however, was unable to convert the three-point play. Diabate, kick-started a 6-0 run for the Lady Mountainers.
North Middlesex responded with a pair of quick baskets from senior captain Julia Murray and a Beauregard three-pointer in the corner to push its lead back out to 10, 42-32. It was a dogfight for the final four minutes of regulation. Wachusett closed the game on a 7-1 run. Wachusett senior captain Brittany Charlonne swished a three-pointer from the top of the key to cut North Middlesex's lead to four, 42-38, with 28.7 seconds remaining. With the win, the Lady Patriots move to 8-1.
"It was a great win for us," he said. "She (Beauregard) has been struggling -- she had a great second half for us. It makes it very nice -- the fact that everybody contributed. It's a great team win. In the heat of the moment, I am just ecstatic."