FITCHBURG -- Coming off back-to-back tough games against Wachusett and Shrewsbury, North Middlesex Regional girls' basketball coach Pat Murphy was hoping to avoid a letdown against Fitchburg Friday night.

The Patriots definitely didn't let the good old ball coach down.

North Middlesex didn't play its most complete game of the season, but it certainly played well enough to win. The Pats got balanced scoring from a host of players, while buckling down on the defensive end en route to a 53-30 Midland League A victory over the Red Raiders at the Doug Grutchfield Field House.

"It's hard to maintain," Murphy said. "We had two tough games in a row. I thought we did what we had to do tonight."

The postseason-bound Patriots (10-1, 4-1) won their 10th game and fourth in the row after suffering their only loss of the season to Algonquin, 52-43, on Jan. 6.

Fitchburg, which played without starters Sofia Hall-McDonald and Alexis Luman, dipped to 3-6 overall and 0-4 in the league.

"I thought that we were able to get good shots off in the first half, but we just didn't shoot a good percentage," Fitchburg coach Derrick Bennett said. "It was better than turnovers, but at the same time North Middlesex is a very good team."

Senior 6-foot forward Mackensey Farina -- despite being constantly double- and triple-teamed -- led the Patriots with 11 points and seven rebounds.

"Farina's tough to stop inside," Murphy said.

And instead of forcing up shots from the paint with Red Raiders draped all over her, Farina passed up those low-percentage shots for much better ones from the perimeter where Olivia Cappucci and Elena Beauregard made Fitchburg pay for leaving them open.

"That's the beauty of having Farina," Murphy said. "They tried to focus on her, front her and back, and she's smart enough to make the ball move."

The 5-foot-10 Cappucci scored nine points, including a first-half 3-pointer, while Beauregard scored all nine of her points on three treys.

"I know my team can score from the outside, so if I get the ball in the post and they collapse, I know I can pass it out to them and they'll make the shot," Farina said.

Bennett liked the way his players concentrated on stopping Farina, but he was also complimentary of North Middlesex's long-range bombers who weren't afraid to pull the trigger and knock down shots.

"Farina didn't go wild, I don't think," Bennett said. "We were able to keep her in check. Everyone was focused, making sure she didn't go off, so that's a good thing.

"Those kids made those shots, they sure did. You can't win them all, but we were at least able to hold (Farina) from killing us."

North Middlesex played solid defense throughout and had all 11 players score in the game.

"I'm proud of us. We're 10-1 right now," Farina said. "We're doing really well."

The Patriots raced out on a 9-2 run to open the game and built it up to 18-8 after the first quarter.

The biggest lead of the half was 18 points, 32-14, while the Pats beat Fitchburg in a variety of ways -- in the post, on the perimeter and with sound team defense that forced the hosts into 12 first-half turnovers.

"We always want to come out and play hard on defense, and when you do that you're going to be successful," Murphy said.

Fitchburg didn't surrender, however, and kept hanging around in the third quarter. Cassie Boddie started the second-half scoring with a left-handed kiss of the glass. Nicole Romero dialed up from long distance and Nakeeya Codrington drove hard in the lane for a deuce.

In the fourth quarter, Codrington -- a senior guard -- buried a 3-pointer to finish with a team-high 10 points.

Romero and Boddie each had six points, and senior Jillian Fanelli played a physical game in the paint and chipped in with four points for the Red Raiders.

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