Lady Lancer Cagers Climb Two Wins From a Three-Peat

Wins over Exeter and then Nashua North in the first two rounds of the 2015-16 Division I tournament last week got the Londonderry High School girls’ basketball squad within two wins of its third consecutive state title.

And the defending D-I champs’ quarterfinal-round thumping of North at LHS Saturday night, March 5 shoved second-seeded Londonderry into a semifinal-round battle with third-ranked Bedford at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester Thursday, March 10 at 6 p.m., after Londonderry Times press time.

The 15th-seeded Exeter High Lady Blue Hawks hung with the Lady Lancers for one quarter in the first-round contest between the two squads at LHS Tuesday, March 1. But Londonderry busted away in the second and third periods after its defense clicked into high gear, and the locals rolled to a 53-26 blowout.

“Exeter had a good first quarter. They played very hard and hit some big shots starting out,” said LHS coach Nick Theos, whose team led by a modest five points (16-11) at that stanza’s finish.

“From the mid-point of the second through the third quarter we finally picked up our defense,” added the coach, whose charges outscored their guests by the massive margin of 28-4 in the two middle quarters, even holding Exeter to a single point in the third stanza. “We also started running the court well, and our point guards pushed the tempo, which led to easy lay-ups. We started playing the type of ball we need to in order to compete in the playoffs, with strong defense and up tempo-offense. Everyone is going to give us their best game, and we need to be ready.”

Ashley Evans paced the LHS offensive charge with 16 points, Kelsey Coffey threw down 15, including a trio of three-pointers, and court general Jackie Luckhardt contributed seven points, seven steals, and 10 rebounds.

The Lady Lancers then moved on to a quarterfinal-round contest with a seventh-seeded North crew that Londonderry had bested by nine points (53-44) in the last game of the regular season for both squads.

Neither side shot well in the first quarter, which ended with the hosts grasping a 12-6 advantage. And when the second quarter was over, the Lady Lancers were still up by six at 26-20.

The Nashuans had received all but two of their points from senior guards Adaeze Okorie and Sara Cordova. Sharp-shooter Cordova netted all nine of her points on three pointers, and her success from distances was something Theos knew his side would need to address in the second half.

The Lady Lancers played a far more intense and defensively successful game in the third quarter, and they outscored the Lady Titans by a 23-12 tally to carry a 49-32 advantage into the final stanza.

And the locals put the final touches on the victory by outscoring their guests by a 16-9 margin during the final eight minutes of play.

Cordova was held to just two more treys by LHS defenders led by freshman guard Amanda Deangelis.

“The kids stuck to the game plan perfectly,” said Theos. “I was happy with this match-up and we knew this team, and the kids stuck to the game plan and got the job done.”

Luckhardt finished with 15 points, nine assists, six rebounds, and two steals to pace the locals. Evans contributed 13 points and 11 big rebounds, Kate Balcom was good for 12 points and six boards, and Coffey came up with a dozen points of her own.

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Caption: Star senior guard Jackie Luckhardt has the Lady Lancer cagers pointed at another D-I title. Photo by Chris Paul

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Caption: Freshman center Ashley Evans appears to be coming into her own of late, putting forth several strong tourney performances for her two-time defending LHS girls’ hoop team. Photos by Chris Paul

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