TOWNSEND -- North Middlesex overcame a lackadaisical start to defeat Hudson 57-51 at home. Three Patriots recorded double figures in the win.
Junior Patriots guard Tyler Thomas did a spectacular job cycling the ball and driving to the basket. Thomas shifted his offensive performance into overdrive in the second half, dropping 12 of his 15 points in the final 16 minutes.
Sophomore center Brendan Vargeletis turned in an impressive performance off the pine for the Patriots with 10 points, after checking into the game at the start of the second quarter.
"Vargeletis had two charges he took in the first half that were monstrous for us," said North Middlesex head coach Erik Dellasanta. "We weren't playing well in the first half. He had a heck of a game defensively and rebounding."
The Patriots found themselves on the defensive for the initial three minutes of the game. Hudson bounded out of the gates on a 7-0 run spurred by back-to-back baskets by junior center Thomas Hunter. Hunter dropped a hook shot and a mid-range turnaround jumper in transition with 6:30 remaining in the first quarter. A minute later, Tom Orsatti buried a trifecta from the left wing to push the lead to seven.
Three minutes ticked by before North Middlesex registered their first point of the game off a free throw by senior center Caleb Baker. Baker drove the lane and got fouled hard going to the basket. Baker clanged the first shot off the back iron, but he managed to get the second one to fall to get the Pats on the board.
Sophomore Drew Patno (10 points) provided the gunpowder for the Patriots offense when he knocked down a jumper with 2:38 left in the first quarter to send the "Trench" into a frenzy as the Pats drew within one, 7-6.
Kevin Wolfe swooshed a three-pointer from the right side off a laser-beam feed from Michael Santos to put Hudson up 11-6 at the end of one.
North Middlesex senior Bobby Larsen plunged a three-pointer from the left side, as the Patriots cut the deficit to 11-9 with seven minutes left in the half. On the ensuing Patriots possession, Baker was fouled as he went up strong to the cup, and he knocked down both his shots from the charity stripe to bring North Middlesex level with the Hawks for the first time, 11-11.
Moments later, Patno nearly blew the roof off the gym sending a three-point missile through the cylinder from long distance to give the Patriots their first lead of the night, 14-11, with 5:46 remaining in the half. North Middlesex took a slim 24-20 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Going into the fourth, the Patriots clung to a 12-point cushion on the Hawks, up 38-26 after Vargeletis sank a duck-and-deposit layup as the third-quarter horn sounded.
A clutch three-point basket by junior guard Mark Rossi off the bench with 5:28 left in the game gave the Pats the energy boost they needed to keep the Hawks in the pressure cooker. Hudson appeared to be gaining momentum, but Rossi's three caged the Hawks' offensive surge.
Senior captain Francis Philips rippled the mesh with a three-point projectile from the left side for the proverbial dagger to push the Pats' lead to 52-44 with 1:40 remaining. Orsatti and Loewen knocked down three three-point baskets in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to wage a comeback.
The Patriots move to .500 on the young campaign with a 2-2 record, while the Hawks fall to 1-2.
"I feel like we came out a bit flat," said Dellasanta. "The second half we focused on rebounding and got ourselves back at the foul line. Hudson shot the ball very well at times, but I think our second half physicality helped us out a real lot."
North Middlesex returns to their home floor next Friday, when they square off with Groton-Dunstable at 7 p.m.