TOWNSEND -- Two-years ago, as a sophomore, North Middlesex point guard Tyler Thomas was called up to the varsity squad for the Patriots' playoff push, but didn't see any playing time.
"I was just kind of an extra body during the playoffs," Thomas said this week. "The workouts were a bit different because it was kind of the seniors' season. Back then, I sort of knew that I would have my chance. Now, it's our season -- the seniors' season."
Friday night, North Middlesex hosts 2013 Division 2 state finalist South Hadley in the quartefinal round of the Division 2 West Tournament.
Thomas has only been a full-time member of the varsity program since last season, when he was named a Mid-Wach A All-Star -- an honor he received again this season. Last season, Thomas was one of the Patriots' leading scorers, averaging 10.3 points per game. This season, the North Middlesex facilitator has boosted his average to 11.1 points.
However, Thomas' value to his team can not be solely measured by the number of points he puts in night in and night out. The North Middlesex offense runs through the sure-handed senior.
"He's sort of been the glue of our team for a couple of years," North Middlesex head coach Erik Dellasanta said. "He brings timely play and a defensive tenacious. Offensively, he is a great decision maker with the ball. He really gets our offense going. He makes our team go -- he's our engine."
The North Middlesex offense provides solid point production, but it does not have a distinct leading scorer.
"We have had six or seven different guys this season lead the team in scoring," the coach said. "He gets the ball to the right option to score. He doesn't just feed one guy. His job is to make reads off of action. He's a very competitive kid that has a natural born-in ability to be a leader."
Coming into the season, Thomas decided that he needed to morph his game into that of an all-around player.
"I just took a new role this year, and I am glad with how it went," he said. "I knew that if I was more of a facilitator, our team would be better than if I was a pure scorer. Being the only true point guard on the team, I knew that I had to adopt that role."
The Patriots have put together one of their strongest seasons in recent memory. Thomas attributes that to the team's strong chemistry.
"We are truly a family," he said. "We have been together for so long, since middle school and over at the courts. We never give up. We are such a scrappy team, we are always in the fight. This season has been one crazy ride."