FITCHBURG -- North Middlesex came into Monday night's Monty Tech Summer Basketball League with a record of 2-1, but only had five players available for its most recent tilt with St. Bernard's.
The Bernardians weathered the early three-point barrage from North Middlesex senior Drew Patno to edge the Patriots, 63-56, for its first win of the summer.
North Middlesex opened the game on a 6-0 run behind the steady hand of Patno. Patno splashed down back-to-back three-pointers from the top of the key. However, the Bernardians responded with a pair of quick baskets from Eric Smith.
Smith capitalized on the Patriots' sloppy ball-handling at center court and made them pay. Smith and the Bernardians' offense trimmed the North Middlesex lead to 6-4 with 17:40 remaining, but Patno rose to the occasion for the Patriots.
Patno continued his dominance from the outside arc, as he flushed a three-pointer to put the Patriots out in front 9-4. St. Bernard's scraped and clawed its way back into the game with timely rebounding from center Joey Salia.
Salia intensely crashed the glass to setup teammate Ryan Fillebrown, of Ayer, for a three-pointer from the left corner to put St. Bernard's out in front, 12-9, with 14:15 remaining in the first half.
Cooper Bigelow extended St. Bernard's lead with a three-point dart from the elbow to make it 18-12. However, the will of the Patriots was on center stage. Patno flushed his fourth three-pointer of the half to split the Bernardians' lead to three with 12 minutes remaining. On the ensuing North Middlesex possession, Patno found sophomore Adam Lorden cutting to the basket. Lorden fielded the pass from Patno on the right block and he finished with a swift bank shot off the glass to bring the Patriots back within one.
The Bernardians ended the first half on a 6-2 run behind a three-pointer from Bigelow. North Middlesex trailed St. Bernard's 32-29 at the half, but fatigue appeared to be setting in for the North Middlesex five.
St. Bernard's picked up where it left off in the opening half, stringing together a 6-0 run to push its lead to seven points. Patno buried his sixth three-pointer of the game from the top of the key to bring the Patriots within six points with 17 minutes remaining. St. Bernard's led by as much as 12 points in the second half, but North Middlesex refused to back down.
But the Patriots were unable to overcome the deficit, as Patno drained a three-pointer late in the third quarter to round out the scoring. Patno led all scorers with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
* Division 1 Monty Tech Summer League
Groton-Dunstable weathered a late push by Mahar to defeat the Senators in Monday night's game. The Crusaders improve to 4-1 in Division 1 Monty Tech Summer League play. Groton-Dunstable will play Oakmont Monday night at 8 p.m.
* Division 2 Monty Tech Summer League
Ayer Shirley 23
Both Ayer Shirley and Lunenburg faced the challenge of competing with depleted rosters in Monday night's game. The Panthers were just six players deep, and weary legs prevailed. The Blue Knights were led by Kody Thipahong with seven points.
Christopher Patano added six points and four rebounds in limited minutes for the Patriots. Mike Davis hit a three late in the second half for Ayer Shirley, but it was not enough. Ayer Shirley committed 14 turnovers in the loss. The Panthers are back in action next Monday at 6 p.m. against Bromfield.
Bromfield had just four players eligible for Monday night's game against South Lancaster Academy. The SLA Crusaders were unaware that there was a game scheduled that night. The two teams opted to play four-on-four basketball in order to avoid taking a forfeit. No score was available at the time of publication for the aforementioned game.