BOLTON -- There were several concerns on the mind of North Middlesex girls' basketball coach Pat Murphy going into last Tuesday night. First off, how would his team look coming off a 12-day break and secondly, could they match up against one of the elite teams in Central Massachusetts? The answers were rusty and not quite yet.
The Lady Patriots fell in a huge hole early on and never dug their way out, falling 70-40 against Nashoba in inter-league action.
"We played one good quarter and you can't do that against good teams and expect to get away with it," said Murphy. "I thought we got killed on the boards and gave up way too many second-chance opportunities. Add that with the amount of turnovers we committed and you have a recipe for disaster."
A Kim Morgan lay up off a Marissa Amichetti feed gave North Middlesex a 6-5 lead two minutes into the contest. It was the last lead they would hold, as the Lady Chieftains proceeded to play near flawless basketball.
Behind the solid play of Emmalie Keenan, Nashoba went on a 27-5 run. The junior guard scored six points and added four assists during the eight-minute stretch. Erin Cressman also scored six points while Cecilia Burke, Nicole Boucher and Nikkiah Snoddy added four points apiece as a one-point deficit turned into a 21-point lead at 32-11 early in the second quarter.
With the game slipping away, the Lady Patriots snapped out of their slumber to claw back into the game with 14 of the final 16 points of the first half. Julia Murray provided a lift off the bench with tough defense while adding four points. Kim Morgan added four points as well. When Morgan knocked down a pair of free-throws, North Middlesex had drawn within nine at 34-25 going into the locker rooms.
"It looked like we were about to get blown out of the gym, but we pulled things together and made a run to get back into the game," said Murphy. "Julia gave us a spark off the bench and keyed our defensive effort late in the second quarter. We did what was needed in order to give us a shot."
Early in the third quarter, the Lady Patriots kept the game close, getting to within 10 on a beautiful give-and-go from Morgan to Mackensey Farina that resulted in a Morgan lay up to make it 42-32, but it would get no closer.
The Lady Chieftains closed the game on a 28-8 run. Cressman was the star. The sophomore forward grabbed nine offensive rebounds in the third quarter alone.
Boucher was also a catalyst on the boards, converting a pair of offensive rebounds into layups as North Middlesex got outrebounded 33-11 in the second half. When the dust settled, Nashoba claimed a 30-point win to improve to 5-1 on the season while the Lady Patriots fell to 4-2.
"I thought we looked a bit rusty, which is not an excuse, we just didn't execute in a crisp manner," said Murphy. "Our rebounding was poor, and if we can't improve in that area we are going to have a long year. I thought Marissa gave us some good minutes and we did some good things, but you have to give Nashoba credit. They are a very good team and they showed it tonight."
Farina led North Middlesex with 17 points and eight rebounds. Morgan finished eight points and six boards. Amichetti added seven points and five rebounds while Murray chipped in four points.
Cressman led the Lady Chieftains with 19 points, 17 rebounds and three steals. Keenan finished with 14 points, four boards and five assists. Boucher added 12 points and five rebounds while Kelly Poole contributed nine points, seven boards, four assists and five steals.