The Middlesex League is not the easiest place in the world to play. In fact, the parity at the top can be outright brutal.
So what do you do if you're the Woburn Memorial
girls basketball team, and your leading scorer goes down for four to six weeks at midseason with a broken hand?
Break out a couple more star contributors.
After suffering its first loss of the season to undefeated Reading earlier in the week, Woburn faced the daunting task - less leading scorer Katy Knight
- of taking on another Middlesex rival with a perfect record, Stoneham.
The Tanners responded by getting 22 points from Erin Marshall
and 21 from Danielle Perkins
in a 58-53 win against Stoneham on Friday, allowing them to keep pace with other leaders in the league's super-competitive field.
Perkins hit four of five shots from 3-point range for Woburn (8-1) while Marshall went 13-for-13 from the foul line in the second half. Woburn shot 87 percent as a team from the foul line for the game.
"Free throws, layups, couple of breakdowns are the difference between winning and losing, and we had a lot of girls really step up," Woburn coach Steve Sullivan told the Boston Herald.Ariana Tuccelli
and Alison Brennan
scored 12 points apiece for Stoneham (9-1), which trailed 56-53 with eight seconds to play before Woburn finished the job. Shannon Maguire
added nine points and eight rebounds for the winners, who were beaten by 16 points three days earlier by Reading, which is rated No. 4 in the state in the MaxPreps Freeman Rankings
But that's to be expected in the Middlesex League, where the top three teams - Reading, Stoneham and Woburn - began the season with a combined 19 straight wins. And that's not even including defending MIAA Division 2 North champion Melrose, which has won numerous league championships in past seasons.
and Woburn all won 16 games or more a year ago, while Melrose went 20-4.
"We've always had good parity in the league,'' Melrose coach Robert Ferrante told the Boston Globe. "This isn't the first time there have been three good teams in this league. It's not uncommon."ST. JOHN'S-SHREWSBURY BOYS LOOK UNBEATABLE
It's going to be tough for anyone in Central Mass to beat St. John's (Shrewsbury)
St. Bernard's is ranked third in the region and sports one of the area's top scorers in John Henault
, but the Bernardians were no match for St. John's Friday night as the Pioneers scored a 69-46 victory.
Though St. John's, No. 4 in the MaxPreps Freeman Rankings,
has lost three games, all three came during its early-season trip to Washington, D.C., where it lost to Good Counsel, Chantilly (Va.) and host Gonzaga in the Gonzaga D.C. Classic.
Senior forward Richard Rodgers
scored 22 of his 25 points in the second half for St. John's (9-3, 3-0 Central Mass Conference). Junior center Matt Palecki
and senior forward Ryan Kelley
scored 11 each for the Pioneers.
Henault (25 points) proved to be dangerous from long range, as did several of his teammates. But only for so long.
"St. Bernard's has a very good basketball team, and we knew they like to take the 3s," St. John's coach Bob Foley told the Worcester Telegram.
"We were all over them when they took those 3s, but they buried them. But as the game went along, I think our defensive intensity, which we had early, and the fact that they (the 3-point shooters) may have gotten tired, helped us.
"I thought Matt Palecki was outstanding," Foley added. "If the ball goes on the floor, you know he's going to get it. He's a good rebounder, hustles on defense and finds a way to get open. He balances off Richard Rodgers very well. And Matt Harrington was great as our floor general." MUSSACHIA, MANCHESTER ESSEX STUN NORTH ANDOVER
Amherst College recruit Joe Mussachia
, a 6-foot-6 senior guard, produced of the season's top performances as unranked Manchester Essex
beat Cape Ann League rival and 17th-ranked North Andover for the first time in nearly three years, 67-60.
Mussachia had 26 points, 34 rebounds and seven assists for Manchester Essex (8-3) while junior guard Sean Nalley
scored 15 points and contributed 11 assists.
"This is an awesome feeling,'' Manchester Essex coach Duane Sigsbury told the Boston Globe. "North Andover has dominated the Cape Ann League for years. We only have 400 kids in the school — they have 1,300 kids. It took a total team effort and a community effort for us to win.''
Of Mussachia, Sigsbury said: "He's a captain, everyone looks up to him. He does a great job on the floor leading by example and keeping them calm."Continue reading