By Ed Niser
TOWNSEND — North Middlesex went down by 24 points midway through the third quarter Monday as it hosted Shepherd Hill.
But the Patriots refused to pack it in — using a 9-2 run late in the quarter to close the gap.
Shepherd Hill held on to defeat the Patriots, 69-67.
North Middlesex was led by sophomore Hadley Beauregard with a team-high 23 points and senior Brittani LeBlanc added 18.
Grace Young rounded out the top scorers for the Pats.
“I liked how our kids wouldn’t lay down and quit,” North Middlesex head coach Patrick Murphy said. “We missed too many layups in the first half — miss a defensive assignment or whatever — you have to make layups. It all comes back to that.”
North Middlesex could find no answer for Shepherd Hill’s Bailey Savage, who finished with a team-high 23 points.
The Patriots held their own with the Rams, who play a predominately Division 1 schedule for the duration of the opening quarter.
Shepherd Hill opened the game on a 7-0 run before Beauregard cashed in on a three-pointer two minutes in.
The Patriots tied the score twice in the first quarter. Senior Olivia Cappucci found Beauregard on the fly in the paint for the easy basket to knot the game at 15-15 with one minute remaining.
The Patriots earned its first lead of the night moments later on a scooping layup from Beauregard to make it 17-15 with 30 seconds remaining.
But the lead was only for the moment as the Rams milked the clock for the final shot.
Not only would they get the last shot of the quarter, senior captain Leah Bugan would make it count as she buried a three-pointer from the left elbow to give the Rams an 18-17 lead as time expired in the first.
Shepherd Hill used an 8-0 run at the front end and a 9-1 spurt at the tail end of the second quarter. Savage capped the 9-1 run with a three-pointer late in the second to put the Rams up 41-28 at the half.
Shepherd Hill picked up the second half right where it ended the first with a dominant 11-0 run behind a Savage three-pointer and a pair of layups by Julia Dandridge and senior captain Meaghan Turner.
Morgan O’Malley converted a layup off a North Middlesex turnover to push the Rams’ lead to 24 at 52-28 with five minutes left in the third.
North Middlesex showed some signs of life late in the quarter with a 18-8 run to trim the Rams lead to 14 at 60-46. However, Shepherd Hill upped the anti with a Savage three-pointer to make it 63-46 Rams after three.
“Shepherd Hill is a very deceptive 5-5 team,” Murphy said. “They lost three out west to some D-1 teams. If we won, this game would have helped us seeding wise.
“I am happy with the fact that we didn’t lay down,” said Murphy. “If we can take this 32-minute intensity against everyone else we play — we will be a solid D-2 team.”
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