The Londonderry High boys’ basketball squad had to work a bit harder for one of its most recent wins, but the wins still kept right on coming for first-year coach Nate Stanton and his charges.
The now 10-2 Lancers were a full 26 points better than the Nashua North High Titans in Nashua early last week, but they found themselves with their hands full to overflowing in a slim win over an Exeter crew that entered the game with a record below the .500 mark.
The Lancer bunch bounced its winning streak up to four games and its divisional record to a stellar 9-2 by man-handling the host North Titans by a 71-45 tally in the Gate City on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
Londonderry sprinted out to a 24-9 lead in the first quarter, and by halftime the locals’ lead sat at 18 points at 43-25. And Stanton’s squad buried any comeback hopes the Titans might have held by outscoring the opponent by a big, 21-7 tally in period number three.
Cody Ball led the LHS attack by tossing in 17 points – including a trio of three-point buckets – and Max Coleman (11 points) and Caleb Green (10) also finished in double figures in points. All in all, the Lancers sank eight threes, adding to Nashua North’s considerable list of frustrations on this particular evening.
But anyone who headed to the LHS gym two evenings later expecting to see the 9-2 Lancers manhandle the visiting, 5-6 Exeter High Blue Hawks was doubtless surprised, and got to see four intense quarters of basketball and a tight finish.
The hosts bagged a 62-56 win in the end, but the victory wasn’t in the Lancer bag until the very final seconds of play.
The Exeter bunch exhibited plenty of mental toughness, intensity, and athleticism in forcing its host right to the wall in order to snag the slim victory.
“Exeter is a much better team than what their record says, and they’re a tough team that doesn’t go away,” said Stanton. “They have good shooters and they don’t quit, and I’m proud of how my guys fought through adversity and learned how to close out a tough game.”
Stanton’s squad “won” every quarter, statistically speaking, but only by the slimmest of margins. The hosts outscored their guests by a margin of 12-11 in the first period, and by a tally of 20-19 in the second to carry a 32-30 advantage to halftime.
The Lancers were, once again, a single point better than Exeter in the third quarter (17-16), carrying a 49-46 lead into the last eight minutes of regulation time.
The pesky Blue Hawks collected a lead of 52-51 with 4:10 left to go, and got their advantage up to 54-51 a moment later before LHS junior standout Ball sank a big three-point bucket to make it a 54-54 game with 2:55 showing on the game clock.
Ball put his Lancers up to stay with an authoritative drive to the basket with 1:31 left, and the hosts never lost the lead again despite Exeter’s best attempts to make the remaining time plenty uncomfortable for their hosts.
“Defensive stops down the stretch won us the game and put us in position to capitalize at the foul line,” said Stanton.
Ball led the victors with 22 big points, Drew Coveney collected 14, and Jake Coleman was good for nine.