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TOWNSEND — New gym. New (old) district. Several new players.

But for everything new surrounding the North Middlesex Regional girls’ basketball team as it prepares for the start of its 2017-18 season, there is a comfortable familiarity found in the face of the man at the helm.

Pat Murphy begins his 38th season as the North Middlesex head coach Monday night, when the Patriots play host to Gardner High in the opening round of the Trainor Memorial Christmas Tournament. He returns a trio of Mid-Wach C All-Stars, including league co-MVP Hadley Beauregard, from a 13-9 team that reached the Western Mass. Division 2 semifinals last year. But an excellent chance to claim another league championship and make another deep post-season run aren’t high on Murphy’s list of reasons why, at age 70, he has no plans to trade in his whistle and clipboard for a rocking chair.

“It’s the kids,” he said. “They’re a great group of kids to work with and coach. I’ve always said that when it stops being fun, that’s when I’ll walk away. But these kids make it fun. I look forward to coming out every day and working with them.

“We’ve had some really good years and we’ve had some tough years,” he said. “But the wins and losses or the championships, they have nothing to do with the chemistry or the character of the kids.”

After four years in the oddly configured Western Mass. district, re-alignment has brought North Middlesex back to Central Mass. this season. The Patriots will enter a Division 2 mix that includes teams like Wayland, Medway, Hopkinton, Nashoba, Marlboro, St. Bernard’s and Groton-Dunstable — a squad that will be vying for its fourth straight Trainor Christmas Tournament victory next week.

North Middlesex will rely heavily on a backcourt of seniors Beauregard and Molly O’Neill that is as good as any in Central Mass. Both have strong ball-handling skills and are dangerous from the perimeter.

“Hadley was co-MVP of the league as a junior. She’s right up there with everybody,” said Murphy.

The Patriots aren’t blessed with a lot of height in the frontcourt. In fact, it begins and ends with 6-foot-1 senior center Maddie Harrington.

“Harrington has good length and quickness. She plays some really good defense in the paint,” said Murphy.

While Harrington is a fixture in the pivot, the two starting forward jobs are up in the air. Senior Sarah Ward and junior Molly McFague figure to be in the rotation up front. But sophomore Sophia Coutu, who saw limited varsity time as a freshmen, along with newcomers Sara Murphy, JoJo Chase and Alex Bellamare, all sophomores, will also be vying for minutes.

Beauregard and O’Neill will be getting the lion’s share of the minutes at guard. They will be backed up by junior Tessa Wesinger, senior Sarah Kleemanm, junior Erin Bourgeois and sophomores Katie Kleeman and Maggie Hackler.

As he has for 23 years, Murphy kicked off the season by taking his team to Connecticut for a preseason round-robin of scrimmages against some of the top teams in the Northeast. Not only does the trip provide live game action against top-flight competition, it also gives the players a weekend road trip, which serves as a bonding experience for the club.

“There is a great mix of teams. There are city teams, prep school teams. We wind up playing 11 half-game scrimmages over the weekend,” said Murphy.

Monday’s season-opener against Gardner will not only be the semifinal of the Trainor Christmas Tournament, it will also be the first basketball game played in the new gymnasium of the brand new North Middlesex Regional High School complex.

“It’s a nice gym, they did a good job,” said Murphy. “It should be an exciting night. We’re hoping to get a really good turnout.”

North Middlesex will play Gardner at 5:30 p.m., with defending Central Mass. Division 3 champion Lunenburg playing Groton-Dunstable in the nightcap at 7 p.m. The winners will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday for the tournament championship, which will follow the day’s 5:30 p.m. consolation game.

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