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Blue Devils have the inside track in win over Lady Pats

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TOWNSEND — The North Middlesex girls basketball team put up a good fight on Monday night against Leominster, but in the end they once again succumbed to their lack of size.

Jordan Storro (14 points, 14 rebounds) and Brianna Martinez (14 points, six rebounds) proved to be too much in the paint as the Blue Devils finished the game on an 11-2 run to pull away for the victory.

“We tried to play physically but we were out-sized at the end,” said North Middlesex coach Pat Murphy. “We did a nice defensive job against Amanda Levasseur, but we need to work on our post defense. Leominster did a nice job of passing the ball inside.”

The game was close throughout, with North Middlesex holding two-point leads after the first and second quarters, and the game was tied after three quarters. But the difference was a North Middlesex team shooting from the perimeter while the Blue Devils operated inside the paint.

Kelly Donovan (15 points, four rebounds) hit a free throw to draw the Lady Pats to within 44-43 with 3:30 left in the game, but Leominster tightened up their defense and pulled away.

After Martinez hit a free throw to make it 45-43, Leominster came up with the key play of the game which took the wind out of North Middlesex’s sails. Martinez missed a free throw but followed her shot and hit an uncontested lay-up for a four-point lead. Seconds later, North Middlesex turned the ball over and Allison O’Connor hit a perimeter jumper to make it 49-43.

“We didn’t block out on the free throw and it killed us,” said Murphy. “Leominster then took advantage of our turnover. That was the key sequence of the game.”

North Middlesex jumped on top 5-0 when Justin Chenelle finished off a fast break with a lay-up, and Donovan drained a three-pointer.

Leominster clawed back and tied the game at 14-14 on Maria Fragale’s 17-footer, before a strong drive by Laura Pelletier put the Lady Pats on top 16-14 after one quarter.

Led by four points from Donovan, the Lady Pats maintained their slim edge in the second period. North Middlesex did a solid job off the boards over the first 16 minutes, holding a 15-12 rebounding advantage.

In the third quarter, the teams were tied at 26-26 and 28-28 before the Blue Devils built a small lead, keyed by Levasseur and Martinez, but the Lady Pats drew even when Brittany Allen banked a long shot which just beat the buzzer to make it 37-37 after three quarters.

Leominster pounded the ball inside to start the fourth quarter, and moved on top 44-38 when Storro connected on a turnaround jumper. Donovan finished off a drive, before two free throws by Conner and a freebie by Donovan made it 44-43, setting the stage for Leominster’s strong finish.

Levasseur and O’Connor each scored seven points for Leominster.

Conner finished with 11 points and three steals for the Lady Pats, while Watkins added eight points and seven rebounds.

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