Patience, a little more patience, and then a bit more patience.
Londonderry High girls’ varsity basketball coach Nick Theos and his assistants have stepped into the 2017-18 season knowing full well that there will be growing pains with their promising but young Lady Lancers. And the team’s season-opening game against the Manchester Memorial Crusaders in the Queen City Friday night, Dec. 8 – a lopsided 63-40 loss – simply placed an exclamation point on the Londonderry coaches’ need for patience this season.
The LHS squad were outscored 39-17 in the first half of play, rebounded with a pretty strong third quarter, and were then outscored by a 13-7 tally in period four in falling by 23 points.
The Lancers certainly had moments when their promise and obvious talent shone through in the season-opener. But they also had lots of turnovers, numerous situations in which they didn’t do basic things like boxing out for rebounds, and losses of focus. Both they and their coaches have every reason to believe that the team will get significantly better as the campaign bounds along, but game number one wasn’t particularly pretty from too many angles.
Still, in the aftermath of the contest Theos had the positive and relaxed attitude of a veteran coach who knows full well that his patience meter will need to be cranked up on high this winter.
“I know the potential we have, and we showed it at times tonight. Just not consistently,” said Theos. “We have the talent, we have the kids, but they’re just young and inexperienced.”
The host Crusaders sprinted out to a 9-0 lead during the first three minutes of the game and the Lancers didn’t net their first points of the new season until 4:25 remained in that period and veteran Delaney McGurn sank a three-pointer.
Memorial would go on to nail some seven three-pointers of its own during the first two quarters on the way to the aforementioned commanding halftime lead of 39-17.
The Londonderry squad’s most concentrated period of strong play came during the first 4 1/2 minutes of quarter three during which it reeled off a 10-0 run to trim the Memorial lead down from 22 points to 12.
The hosts finally tickled the twine for the first time in the second half on yet another three-pointer with 3:10 to go in the third, and when that third stanza was complete the Lady Crusaders’ lead was 17 points at 50-33. Londonderry outscored its host by a 16-11 margin during those eight minutes of play.
Freshman Ashley Rourke showed her potential in the second half – with Theos calling her “our best player on the court” – and she helped her side to five of the first six points netted during quarter number four.
At that point, Londonderry trailed by 13 at 51-38 and a comeback still seemed to be a distinct possibility. But the Lady Crusaders ended up outscoring LHS 12-2 through the remainder of the game in getting to the final score of 63-40.
Sophomore stalwart Courtney Shay ended up being the Lady Lancers’ top scorer with 12 points, while Rourke began her high school career with an eight-point night and veteran McGurn was good for seven points.
The team played their next game – the home-opener – against Nashua North Tuesday Dec. 12, after Londonderry Times press time. Their two other pre-holiday games has them at Spaulding High in Rochester on Tuesday, Dec. 19, and then at home against Bedford two evenings later.