Coach Nick Theos saw his Londonderry High School girls’ junior varsity basketball squad accomplish just about everything a sub-varsity sports contingent is supposed to accomplish.
The team won 14 of its 19 games during the 2013-14 campaign, so it had no trouble being competitive. The young bunch showed resilience and intestinal fortitude, rebounding from a loss to the rival Pinkerton Academy Lady Astros in its first meeting with that crew by trouncing it in the second meeting. And the JV team also gave a number of valuable swing players vital playing time when they made the step down from the Division I title-winning varsity squad to get just that kind of playing time.
The Lady Lancers went a superb 13-4 during their regular season but had a somewhat disappointing post-season, only going 1-1 during the JV tournament as they hunted for a championship. The LHS contingent beat the Manchester Memorial Lady Crusaders by a stunning 28 points in their first tourney game, but the locals were then upended by the Bedford High Lady Bulldogs by eight points in game two.
“The girls practiced hard and worked well together all season,” said Theos. “Even though we didn’t go as far as we would have liked in the tournament, it was a successful year and the girls all made progress.”
The team’s roster included juniors Monica Maney (forward and captain) and Caitlin Tanner (center), sophomores Kat Wells (point guard and captain), Heather Bresnahan (guard), Olivia Gagnon (forward), Kate Balcom (guard and swing player), Jackie Luckhardt (point guard and swing player), Anna Wilkerson (guard), and Angela Peikert (center).
The freshmen included impressive guard and swing player Kelsey Coffey, her fellow ninth grade guards Devyn Enwright and Kaylee Vaillancourt, and forward Jill Naar.
Sophomore guard Wilkerson was something of a profile in courage for the Lady Lancers, playing with an injury before finally being sidelined late.
“She had knee surgery and missed the last game and tourney,” said Theos. “She played hurt all season with a torn meniscus.” Losing Wilkerson certainly affected the Londonderry team, as did having Coffey and Luckhardt begin playing only for the varsity during the eight-game span in which LHS varsity star guard Aliza Simpson was sidelined with a hairline fracture of her right knee.
Kat Wells wound up leading the JV Lady Lancers in both scoring and assists, juniors Maney and Tanner both exhibited impressive leadership qualities, and freshmen Naar and Enwright earned the title “Up and Coming” from Theos.
When asked to look back on his team’s best performance of the campaign, Theos had no trouble zeroing in on one.
“Beating PA after losing the first time close was our best win,” he said. “We got up early on them by 25 at half and coasted to a double-digit win. Kate Balcom and Kat Wells played great.”
With the D-I champion varsity team losing five players to graduation – not to mention veteran coach John Fagula, who has retired – there may well be spots open on the top level next winter.