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The Chieftains had a pair of transition scoring chances go by the boards late in the quarter as sophomore forward Ellie Eisenklam served up a pair of blocks to turn the hosts aside.

Being the top team, Groton-Dunstable knows it’s going to get its league-mates best game. But, the Crusaders weathered the early onslaught.

The second quarter saw little scoring output from both teams as Groton-Dunstable took a 26-16 lead into halftime.

“We are notorious for our slow starts,” said Hennelly. “They had an off-night shooting — I am surprised that we were able to pull away as much as we did. Nashoba did not play as well as it usually does.”

Groton-Dunstable’s tilt with Marlboro (11-7,7-4 Mid Wach B) — will be a good tuneup for both teams heading towards the postseason.

“They are a good team,” said Hennelly, of Marlboro. “They have a couple of guards who are talented inside-out players. Marlboro will be a good test just like Nashoba was tonight. They (Nashoba) have a talented guard in Kevyn Green and a lot of other good shooters. I knew this game was not a gimme.”

Girls’ basketball

Ayer Shirley 57

Maynard 48

Ayer Shirley (9-6, 7-3 Mid Wach D) clinched its ticket to the postseason Tuesday night at Maynard. The Panthers used a 22-9 fourth quarter run to pull away from the Tigers (3-13, 3-8). Senior guard Hailie Young scored 15 points — seven in the fourth quarter — to lead the Panthers. Senior Taylor Wright had 11 and freshman Hayley Sherriff added 10.

North Middlesex 57

Marlboro 40

Senior Brittani LeBlanc (20 points) and sophomore Hadley Beauregard (18 points)– 12 of which came in the fourth — paved the way for the visiting Patriots (9-2,12-5) Tuesday night in Marlboro. North Middlesex returns to action Tuesday night when it travels to Gardner.

Boys’ basketball

Nashoba 57

Groton-Dunstable 38

Gavin Keough led the Crusaders (9-8,7-3 Mid Wach B) with 11 points, while teammate Evan Cook scored 10.

Maynard 77

Ayer Shirley 44

Jon Durben led the Panthers (6-8,4-5 Mid Wach D) with 13 points and Ben Hebert added 9.

Follow Ed Niser on Twitter/Tout:@EdNiser