The Londonderry High boys’ basketball squad drove its way into the new calendar year with significant successes, besting both of its first two 2018 opponents last week to move its Division I record to an impeccable 4-0.
The LHS crew had very little trouble with a Manchester opponent early in the week, but after the snow stopped flying late in the week the Lancers had a bit more trouble disposing of a rival from Nashua.
The Lancer cagers got their Division I record up to 3-0 with a 73-51 mauling of the winless Trinity High Pioneers at home on Tuesday night, Jan. 2.
The hosts won each of the first three periods, grasping leads of 21-11, 40-14, and 59-32 after each. Trinity outscored the locals 19-14 in the fourth quarter in what basically amounted to the proverbial “garbage time.”
The victorious Lancers got points from 10 different sources, with Jack Anderson (13), Ethan May (13), Pat Zepf (12), and Dakota Bertrand (10) all scoring in double figures. Shane McNamara fell just short of that goal, scoring nine points.
The locals then enjoyed another home contest on the evening of Friday Jan. 5 – after two days off from school following the nasty Nor’Easter which thumped the region – in which they were tasked with defeating a Bishop Guertin team from Nashua that Londonderry hammered by a 75-46 tally late in the Commonwealth Classic Holiday Tournament in Massachusetts just after Christmas.
Coach Nate Stanton was concerned that BG might be pumped up to gain revenge in the regular-season meeting after getting walloped by nearly 30 points in the tourney. And as things turned out, the rematch was far closer with much less scoring because the teams both struggled on offense, with the locals bagging a 47-39 decision.
Guertin grasped a 13-10 lead after one quarter, but the hosts were far stronger at both ends of the floor in the second period and outscored their guests by a 15-5 tally en route to a 25-18 halftime advantage.
But both contingents were sloppy and had lots of trouble putting the ball in the hoop in the second half. The Lancers managed to maintain their lead of seven points at the end of three quarters (34-27), and they never lost the upper hand in the fourth period despite the fact that Guertin battled its deficit down to as few as three points at 37-34 with 3:20 showing on the clock.
The Londonderry lead was still quite tenuous at just four points (41-37) with 1:31 to go, and the hosts put the game away in pretty impressive fashion by sinking a bunch of free throws and digging in on defense down the stretch.
Anderson, who led all scorers in the holiday tournament game with 23 points, was tops again in the rematch with 20. But the Lancers’ next two top scorers were Cole Britting and McNamara with just seven apiece.
After scoring nearly 30 less points in the second meeting with BG than it did in the first, and barely shooting 50 percent at the free throw line for the game (11-for-21), the locals were pleased to be able to exit their court with a fourth straight D-I victory.
“Not all wins are going to be pretty, but great teams find a way to win even when they’re not playing their best,” said Stanton. “It’s never easy to beat a team twice in one season, and to be honest I was thinking that maybe it wasn’t a great thing that we beat them by so much the first time because that gave them a reason to come in here tonight looking for revenge. But I’m happy with the way we dealt with adversity and got the win.”
This week’s slate of contests placed the Lancers in Concord on Tuesday Jan. 9 – after Londonderry Times press time – followed by a home game against Exeter this Friday night the 12th. The team is then staring at a full 11 days off from competition, resuming its league schedule on Jan. 23 on its home court against Merrimack.