The meeting of the Londonderry High School and Bedford High girls’ basketball squads in the LHS gym last Friday night, Jan. 16, gave people no reason to believe that the two teams wouldn’t play another intense game with a tight finish, as they had in their two previous meetings.
However, on a night when it seemed as though the old sports adage “As long as the ball is round, anything can happen” came to the forefront, the host LHS Lady Lancers ended up handing the previously undefeated Bedford Lady Bulldogs a stunning, 46-28 drubbing that left the two squads with matching 7-1 Division I records.
Last March, the LHS cagers claimed their first state championship since 1990 by besting Bedford by a 57-56 tally in the D-I championship battle.
Then, when the two teams reconvened for a rematch of that title contest just before Christmas, the host Bedford bunch bagged a last-second, 53-52 win to hand new coach Nick Theos’ defending state champs their first defeat of the 2014-15 campaign.
So, Friday night’s game was expected to be another humdinger of a battle, only this time on the Lady Lancers’ home court.
However, the Lady Bulldogs would likely have had trouble hitting water from a boat out among the waves during the first period, as the Bedford side sank just one of the 12 shots during those eight minutes as the host Lady Lancers sprinted out to a 15-3 lead.
The Londonderry advantage sat at 22-12 at the half, and 29-20 after three periods.
And the Lancers put the game away in the fourth quarter by outscoring their guests by a big margin of 17-8 during that stanza.
The Lady Lancers worked hard and effectively on several zone defenses in helping to frustrate the Bedford crew throughout the game, but the Lady Bulldogs also created a good amount of frustration for themselves – with a hand from old Lady Luck to be sure – by sinking just 12 of the 49 shots they attempted from the field.
“I don’t think (standouts Nicole) Tucci and (Brianna) Purcell are going to have a lot of nights like that, so we definitely did catch them on a rough night,” admitted Theos. “But our kids did execute the game plan we had in place well too.”
The victorious locals did deal with some shooting woes themselves in the contest. But after zipping out to a 13-0 lead during the first seven minutes of the opening quarter, Londonderry never saw its advantage slip below six points the rest of the evening.
The closest Bedford ever came to threatening the Londonderry lead was when the visitors made it an 18-12 contest with 1:17 to go in the second period as the Lady Lancers struggled to hit their shots. But when that second stanza ended, the hosts were up by 10 points at 22-12.
Both teams were sloppy through the first five minutes of quarter number three, and when that stanza was concluded the LHS side was up by nine.
And any questions of a Bedford comeback in the fourth quarter evaporated when the hosts got their advantage back up into double digits and kept it there.
Junior standout Ashley Berube led her victorious team’s offense with 16 points, while seasoned guards Kelsey Coffey and Jackie Luckhardt each added eight and senior forward Brittany Roche was good for seven.
All in all, seven Lady Lancers netted points in an unexpectedly lopsided win over a tough opponent that really struggled that evening.
The Division 1 leading Lady Lancers will next face Merrimack High School on Friday, Jan. 23 at home and then will travel to Nashua South to face the Purple Panthers on Jan 26.