Caption: Freshman Ashley Rourke has been playing like a battle-tested veteran for the LHS girls’ hoop team, and she led the Lady Lancers with 21 big points against Salem. Photo by Chris Paul. Full image below.
Coach Nick Theos saw his young but developing Londonderry High girls’ basketball squad edge its way closer to the .500 mark with victories over Nashua South and Salem last week.
Since starting its 2017-18 season with four losses, the young LHS crew has gone 5-3 in tough Division I in exhibiting the talent which veteran coach Theos and his assistants know is there. However, the Lady Lancers entered this week facing a couple of challenging road battles against two of the better teams in the league.
The locals bounced their divisional record up to 4-7 with a pleasing but somewhat lackluster, 53-44 defeat of the visiting Nashua South Lady Purple Panthers at LHS last Tuesday, Jan. 30. South slipped to 4-6 with the loss.
The locals won every quarter but the fourth, tallying leads of 11-3 after one quarter, 27-18 at halftime, and 41-27 bounding into the final stanza.
The Lady Panthers outscored their hosts by a 17-12 margin in the fourth quarter but couldn’t come all the way back.
Londonderry sophomore standout guard Courtney Shay led the victorious locals with 15 points – with nine of those coming from the free throw line on 12 tries – and Michelle Marino and Ashley Rourke contributed 12 and 10 points respectively. Charlotte Sullivan was good for seven points, and Colleen Furlong netted six points with a pair of three-pointers.
“We came out well defensively, holding South early while the offense got going,” said LHS coach Nick Theos. “It was a very tough, physical game and foul-shooting was key in the first half. We shot an amazing 10 for 10. The second half was even more physical and South made their run. Luckily, the girls stayed strong and held them back with a couple of key baskets late by Rourke and Marino. It’s good to see we can win when we aren’t playing our best. That shows a lot of growth from this team. Hopefully a game we can continue to build off of.”
Theos and his charges then faced off with the visiting Salem High Lady Blue Devils at LHS on Friday night, Feb. 2. And when the final buzzer sounded the locals had a hard-fought, 63-59 victory which made them 5-7 in D-I.
The Lady Lancers were like a whirlwind in quarter one, sprinting out to a 20-0 lead from which the Salem contingent was able to rebound with stellar long-distance shooting to make it a game.
The Lady Devils outscored their hosts in each of the next three periods but trailed by tallies of 34-18 at halftime and 51-36 going into the final stanza.
Salem outscored Londonderry by a 23-12 margin in the fourth quarter, but coach Theos’ troop was able to hang on tight for the win.
Freshman Rourke tallied the most point in the LHS effort with 21 points and sophomore Shay was good for 15.
“We played our best ball of the season to start the game,” said Theos. “We moved the ball, made the right pass, the right shot, and we finished. The entire starting five scored in the first, including 10 from Rourke. Then Salem began hitting their threes. They hit 14 three-pointers in all, and we were actually playing defense. They couldn’t miss, including seven threes in the fourth. But we stayed calm and hit a few clutch lay-ups down the stretch, and then in a two-point game with nine seconds left Shay stepped to the line and hit both ends of a one-and-one to make it a four-point game. It was clutch by her, and by our guards like Colleen Furlong taking care of the ball when Salem was making their comeback.”
The victorious locals also received eight points and double-digit rebounds from Charlotte Sullivan.
“Another tough win, but we are becoming the group I thought we could be. We just need to be more consistent. If that happens then the sky is the limit for where this team can go,” said Theos.
The Lady Lancers then faced the two, aforementioned battles with tough opponents this week out on the road. First was a Tuesday night contest at Winnacunnet in Hampton – after Londonderry Times press time – followed by a shorter drive over to Derry on Friday to face a Pinkerton Lady Astros’ crew which bested the previously-unbeaten Manchester Memorial Lady Crusaders in their own gym in a big D-I contest late last week.