In closing out its 2012- 13 regular season with a pair of lopsided wins last week, the 14-4 Londonderry High girls’ basketball squad also helped coach John Fagula reach and then surpass an impressive coaching milestone. The Lady Lancers’ Tuesday, Feb. 19, hammering of the Timberlane Lady Owls in Plaistow was the 600th victory of Fagula’s 31-year basketball coaching career.
And three evenings later the LHS girls helped their mentor to career win number 601 with a besting of the Nashua High (South) Lady Purple Panthers, who Fagula led to so many victories and championships in several past decades.
Following his team’s 77-24 walloping of the host Timberlane troop early last week, the Lady Lancers enjoyed a 600th win celebration for Fagula back at the LHS gym, complete with cake and guests. And a conversation with a fellow coach during that celebration helped Fagula understand his accomplishment.
“The boys’ basketball coaches were at this little party after their game, and one of the assistants told me that he’d worked it out that 600 wins in 31 years came to an average of around 20 wins per season. And I hadn’t realized that. It put it into perspective for me,” said Fagula.
That evening’s demolition of struggling Timberlane – which lost its eighth straight decision that night – was impressive and pleasing for Fagula and his charges, as they drove their way out to a 24-9 lead in the first period and held the Lady Owls under 10 points in each of the four quarters.
Eleven Lady Lancers netted points in the lopsided win, with Casey Evans leading the charge with 19 points, Aliza Simpson notching 13, and Jordan Marett collecting 10.
Win number 601 in Nashua against Fagula’s former Purple Panther ladies – who were in the midst of a three-game winning streak – was impressive on its face, coming in the form of a 69-49 decision. But there were moments of frustration and anxiety for the coach and his charges. The visitors led 22-9 after one quarter and 37- 22 at the half. But the third quarter was considerably less smooth for the LHS crew, and Fagula’s force was having trouble even hitting lay-ups. By the close of that third stanza, South had whittled the Londonderry lead down to just six points at 50-44, and taking a victory home now seemed to be in question for the Lady Lancers.
But Londonderry collected the first seven points of the fourth quarter to get its lead back up to 13 points at 57-44, and South didn’t even tally a point until 3:19 had been played in the final period. The LHS advantage just grew as time dwindled away, and coach Fagula and his girls were able to buckle up a win that was definitive if not particularly attractive to behold.
“We wanted to play with the kind of intensity and aggressiveness we’ve had in the last few games. We did, but we just didn’t execute as well as we’d have liked to,” said the coach. Junior standout Simpson had another of her monster games where she appears to be everywhere at once. She led all scorers with 28 points and also handed out 11 assists.
The NHIAA announced the tournament seedings Monday, Feb. 25, and the Lady Lancers ended up being the fourth seed behind Bishop Guertin, Bedford, and Pinkerton. Nashua South was lucky seed number 13, and that placed Londonderry and Nashua South into a first- round tournament matchup at LHS on Wednesday, Feb. 27, after the Londonderry Times went to press.