GROTON -- North Middlesex galloped to an 18-2 first quarter run, and never looked back as it defeated host Groton-Dunstable in the opening round of the fourth annual Pete Trainor Memorial Holiday Tournament, 48-36.
"We had some first game jitters with the young kids," North Middlesex head coach Pat Murphy said. "We played really good defense and forced them to take some shots they didn't want to take. Farina was phenomenal for us. We got flat and you gotta give Groton credit -- you know they are not going to lay down. It was back-and-forth, we had a nice cushion. For us, in the first game to get a win, we're happy."
Lady Patriots center Mackensey Farina was the game's leading scorer and rebounder shelling out 21 points and 10 rebounds. The Lady Patriots advanced to the finals of the tournament last Wednesday where they met Ayer Shirley. (The results of the championship game were unavailable at the time of publication. A full-recap will be posted on our website following the game.
The three-pronged attack of Maria Amichetti, Elena Beauregard and Farina helped the Lady Patriots coast in the early going. Emily Valacer netted the game's first points off a pick-and-pop jumper.
Groton-Dunstable junior captain Lindsay Werner cut the deficit in half with a runner in the lane to make it 4-2 with 4:30 remaining. Groton-Dunstable's scoring drought continued well into the second quarter before senior captain Celina Antonellis kissed her shot off the glass from Werner to cut the Lady Pats' lead to 18-4.
The two sides equalized in the second quarter, 5-5. North Middlesex rode into the locker room on a high note as Olivia Cappuci was on the receiving end of a skip pass from Farina to give the Lady Patriots a 23-6 lead at the half.
In the second half, Groton-Dunstable refused to bow down to the much larger and physical North Middlesex side. Although North Middlesex pushed its lead out to 33-9 on an Amichetti lay-up, the Lady Crusaders kept pecking away. Five-foot-seven combo guard Hanna Van Pelt found her stroke in the second half, netting 13 second half points, including two three-pointers to bring the Lady Crusaders within 20.
Murphy emptied his bench in the fourth quarter and the Lady Crusaders took advantage of it. Van Pelt swished the home game's final points on a three-point basket with 34.5 left.
"What I told the girls was, against a team like that, if you don't come out fighting right away, you're going to fall into a hole that you're not going to be able to crawl out of," Groton-Dunstable head coach Mark Hennelly said. "The girls were intimidated by their size at first. I think in the second quarter, we realized that if we played them tough, we could hang in there.
"If Van Pelt continues to work, she's going to be a fantastic player," he said. "I thought she really responded to the challenge of playing Farina in the second half. I think better things are coming."
Van Pelt also paced the Lady Crusaders' on the glass with seven rebounds to go along with her 13 points.