It wasn’t a pretty victory, but the Londonderry High girls’ basketball squad began its involvement in the first Pinkerton Academy Girls’ Basketball Christmas Tournament with a 54-41 victory over the Pelham High Lady Pythons in Derry this past Monday, Dec. 28.
The Lady Lancers, who posted a 3-1 record in pre-holiday action in Division I, appeared to have the game under control in the first half. But their lead had been whittled way down to just three points by the end of the third period, and coach Nick Theos returned his battle-tested veterans to the game in the fourth quarter and the locals regained a double-figure lead.
It was far from the most fiery or intense effort one will ever see from a Londonderry High girls’ hoop team. But Theos was able to get all of his players into the contest, and senior guard Jackie Luckhardt showed her leadership abilities in the final quarter as the Lady Lancers regained control of play.
“Sometimes a little motivation can go a long way, and sometimes the kids need to see that,” said Theos of the way his starters reacted to having their lead evaporate.
Londonderry led by eight points at the end of one quarter (15-7), and by 11 at halftime (30-19). The LHS advantage grew to as many as 18 points in quarter three, but Pelham – which tallied a 3-2 record in pre-holiday play in Division III – made hay against a crew of LHS subs later in the third quarter and sliced its deficit down to just six points at 39-33 after three full stanzas.
And after scoring the last 12 points of the third quarter, the Lady Pythons netted the first four of the fourth to carve its deficit down to just three slim points.
But it was then that Luckhardt took over for the Lady Lancers, sinking a momentum-stopping three-pointer on the way to a 10-point fourth quarter performance as her team jumped back into the driver’s seat and stayed there.
The standout guard finished the night with a team-leading 17 points, and her fellow 12th grader Kate Balcom tallied 13 of her own.