TOWNSEND -- The North Middlesex Regional girls' basketball team passed a big test Wednesday night.

The Patriots, who won six straight before losing to Algonquin on Monday, looked to their twin towers of Mackensey Farina and Erin Antosh to get back on the winning track.

The 6-foot-2 freshman center Antosh had a coming out party with 18 points and nine rebounds, while senior 5-foot-11 forward Farina tossed in 17 points and hauled down nine boards to power North Middlesex to a 64-49 Midland League A victory over Leominster at Bartlett Gymnasium.

"This was huge," North Middlesex coach Pat Murphy said. "You don't want to get that mindset of 'we can't beat anybody that's up.' Tonight, the second half, I thought we executed better. Any time you win (a league) game, it's great."

Leominster head coach Kevin Grutchfield admitted that his team was going to have to play near-flawless to win, but the Blue Devils just couldn't stop the North Middlesex big post players in the second half.

"We came out a little flat and I have no idea why," Grutchfield said. "We knew we were going to have to play the best game of the season and somehow contain the two six-footers, but we didn't do a good job of that in the second half."

The Blue Devils (5-2, 1-1) trailed only 27-24 at the half after being down 9-0 to start the game, but couldn't get stops on defense or make any key runs in the final 16 minutes to pull the upset.

But North Middlesex (7-1, 1-1) had a lot to do with that, however.

The Patriots made a conscious effort to pump the ball in the paint to take advantage of their distinct height advantage, and both Farina and Antosh destroyed the Blue Devils' smaller defenders in the second stanza.

After Leominster pulled to 31-28 on a free throw by Annie Thomas, the Pats looked to Antosh for three straight low-post buckets, including a nifty spin for a deuce, and a 44-34 lead with 45 seconds left in the third quarter.

Leominster sophomore rising star Arianna Bilotta's fast-break floater after a Patriot turnover got the visitors to within 50-44, but the Pats quickly went back to the post for easy hoops by Farina and Antosh to go up 55-46.

"You know what you're getting when you play Leominster - hard-nosed, physical defense and you've got to be able to handle it," Murphy said.

Antosh score 14 of her game-high 18 points in the second half.

"I thought the freshman played really well tonight," Murphy said. "That was her best performance."

North Middlesex sophomore Brittani LeBlanc also played a strong game with nine points -- six in the first half -- while running the offense from her point guard position.

Bilotta was perhaps the best player on the floor in the first half.

The sophomore guard was simply awesome by battling for rebounds, diving for loose balls on the floor and playing in-your-face defense all while finding the time to pump in 13 first-half points.

North Middlesex jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the contest, but Leominster rode on Bilotta's back to tie the game at 15-15 via a 15-6 spurt.

During the run, Bilotta scored four buckets in a variety of ways -- a baseline drive, layup on the inbound play under the basket, rebound putback and drive in the lane with a floater finish.

"I call her the freak because she's such a freak athletically," Grutchfield said. "She jumps higher than everybody and she gets big rebounds. She just has this natural feel for the game. She loves our style and loves to play pressure defense. She's going to be really good."

Leominster senior point guard Quinn O'Connell scored a quiet 15 points -- 12 on free throws -- and had only one field goal on a 3-pointer in the first half.

Credit goes to North Middlesex senior defender Julia Murray for a solid job of aggressive and agitating defense on the Leominster scoring threat.

"I thought we did a great job on Quinn," Murphy said. "Julia Murray did a great job."

Erin Stephenson hit two 3-pointers on her way to nine points for Leominster.

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