There’s nothing better than preparing for a playoff game with a game that has a raging playoff atmosphere. And the Londonderry High boys’ basketball squad can tell you all about the concept.
Coach Nate Stanton’s Londonderry High boys’ basketball squad had dropped two consecutive games going into its Division I regular season-ending game against the pesky Nashua South High Purple Panthers in the Gate City last Friday night, Feb. 22. And though the Panthers were struggling, Stanton and his squad had every reason to expect a real battle from South. And that’s precisely what the Lancers got.
It took two overtime periods to decide the matter, with Londonderry finally escaping from the Elm Street Junior High School gymnasium with an 87-80 decision in its grasp after four regular quarters of play and two overtime stanzas.
Overtime was required when South junior forward Mike Osgood nailed a three-point shot with just two seconds left in regulation time to knot the score at 66-66.
And after one, four-minute overtime had been played, the two teams were still knotted up at 73-73.
But the Lancers doubled their opponent’s scoring output (14-7) during the second OT stanza to collect the uplifting 87-80 win.
The victorious locals received 29 big points from freshman point guard Caleb Green, 22 from junior sharp-shooter Cody Ball, 14 from steady senior Drew Coveney, and 13 from junior big man Marc Corey in claiming the fine win, which enabled them to end the regular season with a 14-4 record. South finished up at 9-9 and as loser of five of its final six regular season contests.
“I knew (South) would battle us hard. And what I liked best was that our guys just kept battling too,” said coach Stanton. “This wasn’t our best game, but we just kept battling and got the win.”
The game was played in the dungeon-like Elm Street Junior High School gymnasium, whose prime had to have been in the 1960’s, because Nashua High South was hosting a robotics fair.
Londonderry led by just a single point at 17-16 after one quarter, but the second period was a big one for the locals as they outscored their hosts by an 18-5 margin and carried a 35-21 lead into the second half.
Play was extremely tight in the third quarter, with Londonderry lucky to exit that stanza with a five-point advantage of 53-48.
And the Purple Panthers exhibited tremendous intensity in the fourth quarter – working to stifle the Lancers with tactics like half-court traps – and managed to get the score knotted up at 66-66 as the buzzer sounded, ending regulation time, because Osgood sank his huge trey.
There was more of the same in the firstovertime, with the Lancers missing out on a chance to snare a two-point lead with less than 20 seconds to go when Coveney’s nice drive to the hoop got him hammered from multiple directions by defenders, but no foul call was forthcoming. And it was on to a second OT with the score deadlocked at 73-73.
Green and Ball were nothing less than exceptional in that decisive final period, while South suffered from cold hands where shooting was concerned. And Stanton and his charges had every reason to be pleased with and proud of themselves in getting a hard-fought win in preparation for the Division I tournament.