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TOWNSEND — An underdog must execute, and giving a better team easy scoring opportunities is a formula for disaster. On Tuesday night, the North Middlesex boys basketball team found that out as Wachusett capitalized on 18 first half turnovers by the Patriots to open up a 16-point halftime lead, en route to a 61-41 victory.

“Tonight, our mistakes really came back to haunt us,” said North Middlesex coach Erik Dellasanta. “Too many turnovers become lay-ups and you can’t do that as a team and expect to get a lot of wins. Hopefully, we will learn from this and improve.”

The teams traded runs in the early going as the game got off to a quick start. Behind four quick points from Brendan Gove, the Mountaineers established early control with a 7-2 lead. Ben Ingerson helped the Patriots get back into the game with four points as part of a 6-2 spurt that made it 9-8.

Over the next three minutes, scoring alternated as North Middlesex got within one three separate times, the final one coming on a three-point play by Ingerson that made it 14-13 midway through the opening half. It seemed the Patriots were primed for a battle, but turnovers ruined the plan as Wachusett ended the half with a 21-6 run to seize control. .

North Middlesex committed 14 turnovers in the final eight minutes and the Mountaineers took advantage. Kellon Hayes led the way with eight points and a pair of assists while Adam Griffin and Dylan Malloy each added four points as Wachusett expanded a one-point lead to a 16-point advantage heading into the break.

At the start of the second half, the lead grew to 19 on a Jeremy Ross lay-up off a Hayes feed, but the Mountaineers went cold for three minutes and didn’t score. But the Patriots could only muster buckets by Kyle Miklinevich and Kyle Capsalis to make it 41-26, and they would never get any closer.

The Mountaineers were still in control and put the game away with an 8-2 run to take their largest lead of the night. Griffin was the catalyst with four points, including a lay-up that made it 53-30 with four minutes to play.

The Patriots played hard to the final whistle, and hit six of their final ten shots, but it wasn’t enough as Wachusett claimed the road win.

“Ben did a nice job in the post and gave us some early offense,” said Dellasanta. “I thought our defense was solid when we got into the half court. We did a decent job on the boards, it just came down to transition points and we did a poor job in that area.”

Ingerson paced North Middlesex with 17 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Justin Gay chipped in seven points. Miklinevich added five points off the bench while Phil Aiello grabbed six boards and had four assists.

Griffin led the balanced Mountaineers with 11 points and three steals. Hayes (five assists and three steals) and Gove (six rebounds) each added eight points while Mitch Renshaw (nine boards and two blocks) and Malloy finished with six points each.

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