GROTON — Ayer Shirley head coach Pete Page knew his team had its work cut out for it, when it took a much larger North Middlesex side Wednesday night in the Fourth Annual Pete Trainor Holiday Tournament Finals at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School.
The Lady Patriots rode the hot hands of sharpshooters Elena Beauregard (13 points, three rebounds) and Brittani LeBlanc (17 points, three rebounds) in the first quarter to build a commanding 21-9 lead from which Ayer Shirley would not recover.
“We came out really strong — then, we just went flat,” North Middlesex head coach Pat Murphy said after the win. “We let them back in it per say. I’ve got to give Ayer Shirley credit. They just kept on fighting and fighting. They are very hard-nosed. We had stretches where we played the way we were capable. Farina does it all for us.”
Ayer Shirley cut the Lady Patriots’ lead early in the third quarter to eight points, but fatigue started to set in for the underdogs.
“We were trying to front her in the beginning with a little man-to-man,” Page said. “I told the girls that we were going to force them to shoot the outside shot. And, to their credit, they made all those shots in the first quarter. If you are going to live with one thing or another, you can live with taking away the easy shot.”
North Middlesex started the game on fast-and-furious run — scoring seven points in the first minute of the game.
Ayer Shirley closed the gap to five points midway through the frame when Gabby Hebert (eight points, 13 rebounds) pivoted in the lane with a floater to make it 9-5.
Thirteen of Beauregard’s game-high 17 points came in the first quarter as the Lady Panthers could not seem to find an answer for the pinpoint long-range shooting by the Lady Patriots.
In the second quarter, Ayer Shirley’s full court pressure was able to hold the potent Lady Patriots offense to six points, but North Middlesex maintained a 27-13 advantage at the end of the first half.
Page’s Lady Panthers came out refueled and roaring to go in the second half. Ayer Shirley hammered home a pair of quick three-point bombs from birthday girl Tina Babcock within the first minute of the second half.
The Lady Panthers’ full-court presence started to give North Middlesex fits early in the third quarter.
“We had it down to eight, and we were starting to tire,” Page said. “We leaned on a lot of our starters and we kept asking them to give us as much as they could on the defensive end. There are a lot of things we can take from this. We have to learn the difference between stopping and popping and getting a wide open look. I was happy with how we handled their press. We knew we would have trouble if they got that run, especially late in the game.”
North Middlesex ran away with the game in the fourth, outscoring the Lady Panthers 30-2 in the fourth quarter.
Farina was named the Pete Trainor Tournament Most Valuable player.
The following players were named to the All-Tournament team: Lindsay Werner (Groton-Dunstable) , Hebert (Ayer Shirley) , LeBlanc (North Middlesex) and Beauregard (North Middlesex).