TOWNSEND — The Shrewsbury girls basketball team has enjoyed a strong season and resides at the top of the MidWach A standings. One of their speed bumps came earlier in the season when they were upset at home by North Middlesex. On Friday night, the Colonials turned the tables and avenged that loss by pulling away to a 59-39 win over the Lady Pats.
The final score belies the competitiveness of the game. Shrewsbury led 34-29 at halftime and were on top 41-35 with only 7:41 left in the game, before closing the game with an 18-4 run to pull away.
Two recurrent bugaboos hurt North Middlesex in the game. The Lady Pats were on the short end of a 30-13 count in free throw attempts. Also, after shooting well in the first half, North MIddlesex hit just 4 of 26 shots in the final 16 minutes and scored just ten points.
“We have times when we play well and times when we don’t,” said North Middlesex coach Pat Murphy. “We started slow and then put together a great stretch late in the first half. We were still in the game midway through the second half and we had our chances to make runs, but we made some poor decisions. The kids are working hard and they gave it everything they had.”
Shrewsbury’s game plan early was to pound the ball inside, and they got solid production from center Kelly McKenna as they raced out to a 14-7 lead.
Inspired by excellent play from Katie Hayward, the Lady Pats scored eight of the next ten points to climb within 16-15. The final four points were by Hayward, a 15-footer and a drive.
Shrewsbury bounced right back. Erin Kinback (14 points, six rebounds, three steals) hit a 17-footer and converted a steal into a lay-up to make it 20-15 and fuel a 14-2 run to put the Colonials in charge at 31-17. Kathryn Nelson chipped in with a three-pointer and a 17-footer, while Kristy Benoit (15 points, six rebounds, five steals) did a little bit of everything in the run.
But just when it seemed like they might get blown out of their own gym, the Lady Pats turned it up a notch and finished the half with a 12-4 run of their own, getting contributions from a number of players. Hayward scored four of the points while Christine Kelleher added a basket, plus a pair of pretty assists.
The Lady Pats came out playing inspired defense in the second half, holding the Colonials scoreless for more than four minutes. But they couldn’t take advantage by complementing that with offensive production, getting only a pair of free throws by Angela Johnson to draw within 34-31.
Shrewsbury’s offense finally woke up with seven unanswered points, capped by a pair of free throws by Bridget Hally to build the lead to double digits at 41-31 with 9:30 left.
The Lady Pats got a 15-footer from Taylor Murphy and a follow-up basket by Meggan Carkin to make it 41-35, but Benoit took over for Shrewsbury, scoring on a drive before converting after grabbing an offensive rebound to rebuild the lead to ten.
A Tracy Ericson 17-footer cut the lead to eight, but the Lady Pats never got any closer.
“Katie Hayward played a very strong game for us and I thought that Kelly Donovan did some nice things off the bench,” said Murphy. “We have no margin for error and we just have to go back to work.”
McKenna finished with nine points and nine rebounds for Shrewsbury, while Kelsey Giedyman added seven points and four rebounds.
Hayward paced the Lady Pats with 15 points, ten rebounds and two steals. Ericson and Carkin (four rebounds) each added six points.