North Middlesex 36
By Ken Blanchette
TYNGSBORO — Tyngsboro High School has moved into Central Massachusetts this season and the girls basketball team made a smashing debut on Friday night.
Keyed by a stifling full-court press, quickness and offensive balanced, the Lady Tigers took control of the game in the first quarter and rolled to an easy 64-36 win over North Middlesex.
North Middlesex was hampered by the loss of senior captain Brittney Nelson, its most experienced guard, and struggled against the press throughout the contest. The Lady Patriots struggled to take care of the ball and committed 31 turnovers, compared to 13 for Tyngsboro. The Lady Patriots’ inability to get off shots proved to be the difference.
The Lady Patriots also struggled from the free-throw line, connecting on just six of 22 attempts, and were also on the short end on the boards, as Tyngsboro owned a 30-26 advantage.
“Not having Brittney tonight hurt us,” said North Middlesex coach Pat Murphy. “Tyngsboro has a tough style to play against and they are very athletic. We were nervous and we committed a lot of unforced errors, and maybe this will be an early wake-up call for us. We need to do a better job rebounding and also need to make better decisions.”
The Tyngsboro press was relentless and North Middlesex started to pile up turnovers from the opening whistle. The Lady Patriots took a 5-3 lead on a three-pointer by Julie Pecukonis, but the Tigers finished off the quarter with a 14-1 run to take a commanding 17-6 lead after eight minutes. Fast-break baskets after steals by Amanda Hogan (18 points, seven steals) and Lauren Iadarola (15 points, four rebounds, three steals) keyed the flurry, which ended with a three-pointer by Helena Hamilton, who finished with six points and four rebounds.
Pecukonis opened the second quarter by draining a 17-footer to make it 17-8, but Hogan answered with a three-pointer. Shots from behind the arc were a large part of the Tigers’ offense in the game as they connected on six of 28 from three-point range.
Samantha Lynch hit a perimeter jumper for the Lady Patriots to make it 20-10, but the Tigers pulled away over the remainder of the second quarter, scoring 19 of the final 25 points to build a 39-16 halftime advantage.
The numbers over the first 16 minutes documented the 23-point lead as the Tigers attempted 37 shots from the field, compared to just 16 for North Middlesex, keyed by a 19-6 edge in turnovers.
Any thoughts of a comeback were quickly dashed in the early minutes of the second half as the Tigers came out and maintained the momentum. Stephanie D’Annolfo, Hogan and Iadarola each finished off a drive before a Hogan free throw upped the lead to 30 at 46-16.
Mackensey Farina worked hard for North Middlesex in her first varsity game, finishing with 11 points and 13 rebounds. She did a nice job in the second half of getting inside the paint and drawing fouls. Kim Morgan finished with six points and two steals for the Lady Patriots while Emily Church also scored six points. Pecukonis chipped in with five points.
D’Annolfo turned in a strong effort for the Tigers, finishing with nine points and eight rebounds while Morgan Mitchell flashed some solid post moves and finished with 11 points and four rebounds.