After putting forth a historic, undefeated championship season last winter and then losing a bunch of key players to graduation, the defending Division I champion Londonderry High boys’ basketball squad stepped into the 2015-16 campaign last week with many questions that needed answering.
And while the Lancers certainly didn’t answer all of the questions regarding their skill level, their depth, and where they’ll wind up in tough D-I this season during their hard-fought, 60-57 loss to the host Bedford High Bulldogs last Friday night, Dec. 18, coach Nate Stanton’s guys showed plenty in that contest.
Early on, it looked as though the locals were going to get blown out of the Bedford High gymnasium as they saw their opponent sprint out to a 12-0 lead before the Lancers notched their first points of the night. But even though they trailed by 18 points after one quarter and by 22 at halftime, coach Nate Stanton’s squad came to life in the second half and outscored its opponent by a 41-19 tally to force overtime.
The Bulldogs squeaked out the tight victory in the extra stanza, but the Lancers left Bedford with reasons to feel good about their skills, heart, and character.
“We’ll only get better, and they showed me a lot of good things tonight,” said Stanton.
Good was very definitely not a word the LHS coach found himself using after one half of play had been completed, as his team struggled mightily with shooting and trailed 22-4 after one quarter and 33-11 at the break.
“They came in not really prepared mentally for this game, and it could have been nerves too,” said Stanton. “For a lot of them this was their first varsity start.”
But the LHS crew gave its leader plenty of reasons to be proud of it in the second half as it outscored Bedford by a 22-8 tally in the third quarter to slice its lead down to eight points at 41-33. The locals then whittled away further at the deficit in the fourth quarter, finally knotting the score at 50-50 with 2:18 to go.
Junior guard Jake Coleman, who hit just one of the nine shots he attempted in the first half, stood at the heart of the LHS comeback. And when regulation time expired, he and his teammates had the score knotted up at 52-52 and overtime was required.
Londonderry claimed its first and only lead of the night of 57-56 with 2:15 left in the four-minute overtime when Coleman sank a three-pointer.
But Bedford would bag the last four points of the night, with the Lancers getting Coleman an open look for a game-tying trey in the final seconds. But the shot clanged off the rim and away, and the hosts had the win.
Coleman led Londonderry with 19 points, and junior forward Matt Corey collected 15 before fouling out with 1:14 to go in regulation time.
“The way they came out in the second half, showing so much resiliency, showed me a lot,” said Stanton.
The Lancers then got to play their first home game of the new season against the Trinity High Pioneers from Manchester on Monday, Dec. 21.
And the defending state champs tallied their first ‘W’ of the new campaign by handling Trinity with authority in a 77-60 success.
The locals were up by a strong 11 points at the half (35-24), and at the close of three stanzas their advantage sat at a reasonably comfortable 14 points (57-43).