FITCHBURG -- North Middlesex coasted to its first win of the Monty Tech Summer Basketball League season Monday night against Mahar by a score of 37-27.
North Middlesex senior guard Drew Patno paced the Patriots with a team-high 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
"It definitely helped getting that first win of the summer out of the way tonight," Patno said. "Our team is coming together really well. We only have a few returning kids, and a lot of the younger guys are going to have to step up.
"We pushed the pace really well tonight," Patno said. "At the start of the game, we were not really getting much going. When we slowed it down, we didn't get much production. As soon as we sped it up, we started to extend our lead."
North Middlesex and Mahar had trouble finding the bottom of the net in the opening two minutes of the game. Patno muscled into the lane, drew contact and made the shot to put the Patriots up 3-0, following the made free-throw.
Two-minutes later, senior forward John Boutwell (9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 3 assists) skipped a pass over to junior Richie Sharp, who beat his man off the dribble and scored to push the Patriots' lead to 5-0.
Mahar's Austin Leary gave the Senator fans something to cheer about as he splashed down a three-point shot from the left elbow to bring his team back within striking distance. Leary converted again from three-point range following a North Middlesex turnover at half court to put the Senators up, 6-5, with 15:15 remaining in the first half. Patno front-rimmed a three-pointer on the ensuing possession, but Sharp arrived just in the nick of time to convert the tip-in.
The two teams ended the opening half deadlocked at 15-15. North Middlesex opened the second half on a 9-2 run behind baskets from Patno and Boutwell. Boutwell went to work between the blocks with a fearsome move to the basket to make it 24-17 with under 12 minutes remaining.
The North Middlesex lead quickly ballooned to its biggest margin of the night, 12 points, on a three-pointer in the right corner from Boutwell.
"John has been working on his outside jump shot just playing around in practice," Patno said. "He is really an inside-out shooter, who brings a physical presence inside. He is not afraid to draw the contact. He is truly an X factor for us."
Newcomer Nijal Hamberg, a senior transfer from the Winchendon School, got into the mix with five points, including one three-pointer and two steals.
"Nijal is going to help our team out a lot," Patno said. "He is a very good three-point shooter. He is a solid passer and a pure scorer. He will add a nice dynamic to our offense."
North Middlesex makes the move into the Midland B league from Midland A this winter.
Division 1: Monty Tech Summer Basketball League
Groton-Dunstable (2-1) hung with Fitchburg in an up-tempo first half of Monday's Monty Tech Summer League game, limiting the Red Raiders to 18 points in the opening 20 minutes. The Crusaders trailed by 12 with 8 minutes remaining in the game, but the deficit proved to be too steep, as Groton-Dunstable fell, 41-33. Groton-Dunstable junior Shane Dawson led the Crusaders with a team-high 13 points and six rebounds. At the time of publication, the Crusaders fall to 2-1 in summer league play. Manny Payton led the Red Raiders off the bench with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Division 2: Monty Tech Summer Basketball League
Bromfield fended off a feisty Lunenburg team Monday night in a Monty Tech Summer Basketball League Division 2 contest. Bromfield's biggest lead of the game, five points, came in the opening 13 minutes. The Trojans held a 20-17 lead at half-time.
Lunenburg took its first lead of the game four minutes into the second half on a three-pointer, but the Trojans were able to go the extra mile with timely baskets from Mark Schwiegershausen and Jake Frackiewicz.
Liam Sullivan added a team-high 12 points and four rebounds for Bromfield.
*Ayer Shirley 30
Monty Tech 29
Ayer Shirley improves to 3-0 in Monty Tech Summer Basketball League play with a nail-biting win Monday night. The Panthers return to action Monday at 8 p.m., when it faces Lunenburg.
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