A substantial victory over a struggling Manchester opponent followed by a slim win over a hard-charging Nashua contingent left first-year varsity coach Nick Theos and his Londonderry High girls’ basketball squad with a 16-2 record as they completed the 2014-15 regular season last week.
That exceptional regular season mark left the defending Division I champion Londonderry cagers deadlocked with the squad they beat in the D-I title match last March – the Bedford High Lady Bulldogs – in the top spot in the division.
The Lady Lancers hosted to a scuffling Manchester Memorial crew – four losses in its previous five games – Tuesday, Feb. 24, and handed the now 10-7 opponent a 57-38 defeat on the LHS squad’s senior night.
The visiting Lady Crusaders grasped a three-point lead after one quarter, but Theos’ 15-2 Lady Lancers kicked into a higher gear in the second period (17-7 scoring) and kept it up in earnest in the third (26-10) to roll into the final quarter with a 49-26 lead.
Sophomore Kelsey Coffey paced the LHS offensive attack with 14 points, and junior Ashley Berube was a real power under the baskets, tallying 12 points, 16 rebounds, and five blocked shots.
“We started off slow but got things going in the third quarter,” said Theos. “We hit four threes in the quarter, with Jenna Conroy hitting two of them. Jackie Luckhardt, Kat Wells, and Kelsey Coffey all hit two three-pointers each. It was a great way to finish our last home game.”
Berube was an absolute monster in her team’s 46-43 win over Nashua North in the Gate City last Friday night, tallying 26 points and 11 rebounds to lead the LHS charge.
The visiting locals led 11-6 after one quarter and 21-18 at the half. Their lead never got comfortable, but they still led after three quarters had been completed (38-34), and the Lady Lancers wound up winning by those three slim points.
“It was an ugly game at times, and neither team shot very well from the outside,” said Theos. “Ashley had a monster game, they just didn’t have an answer for her. We knew we would have an advantage down on the block, but Ashley was huge all game long. She was the best player on the floor tonight.”
The Lady Lancers learned Monday, March 2, that they had lost the tie-breaker with Bedford High for the top-seed in the Division I tourney.
The two 16-2 squads played twice this winter and each side won a game, so the first tie-breaking criteria didn’t bust the deadlock for first place.
Neither did tie-breaking criteria number two – regarding records against teams qualifying for the tournament – so the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association had to go to tie-breaking criteria number three, which deals with “quality of wins.”
And in the simplest possible terms, owing to the fact that Bedford defeated number three seed Manchester Central and Londonderry lost to Central during the regular season, Bedford finished with a better “quality of wins” ratio than LHS and wound up seeded number one.
Hence, the second-seeded Lancers were to head into preliminary-round tourney play against the 15th-ranked Exeter High Lady Blue Hawks (3-15 record) at LHS on Tuesday night, March 3, after the Londonderry Times went to press.
Provided the Lancers defeat the Exeter crew in that tournament contest, they will face either number seven Nashua North or number 10 Dover in quarterfinal-round play at LHS this Friday night.