When the Londonderry High boys’ basketball squad lost by 36 points to the Dover High Green Wave on the seacoast back on Feb. 20, it’s likely that despite that lopsided outcome nobody could have guessed what the outcome might be if the Lancers and the Green Wave played a rematch in the Division I tournament.
Well, those two squads met up in D-I preliminary-round tourney play at LHS Thursday night, March 8, with the sixth-seeded Londonderry crew aiming to advance by beating the 11th-ranked Dover side while also proving that their Feb. 20 debacle was a case of the Lancers getting themselves settled into a new lineup after senior guard Cole Britting was lost to a knee injury.
Britting didn’t play again during the regular season, which Londonderry ended with a 12-6 record with consecutive victories over Keene, Manchester Memorial, and Nashua North. But that successes left the Lancers feeling as though they could still be a power in the tourney, even without their guard.
However, the LHS crew’s involvement in the Division I post-season consisted of just one game, with that being a frustrating and rather disappointing 62-58 upset loss to a Green Wave squad which trailed by a point with 1:01 left in the contest but made some big free-throws count en route to the win.
Accuracy at the charity stripe ended up being huge in this contest, with the host Lancers hitting just four of the 12 they attempted in the contest and Dover netting nine of the dozen they attempted during just that pivotal, final 1:01 of the game. The Green Wave sank 11 of their 16 freebies.
“I felt like we were in control of the game for 31 minutes and then lost focus in the most critical minute of the game,” lamented LHS coach Nate Stanton. “There are a lot of life lessons learned through the game of basketball, and my hope as a coach is that we take this experience and learn from it for the future.”
Londonderry trailed 11-9 after one quarter, but the hosts outscored their guests by a 19-14 tally in quarter two to carry a small, 28-25 advantage to halftime. And the Lancers’ lead stood at a decent but still modest 42-38 rolling into stanza number four.
“With a minute left, Ethan May went for a steal and picked up his fifth foul when we were up by one point,” said Stanton. “Unfortunately, the emotions get the best of him in that split second and he picked up a technical. They then hit four foul- shots, with two for the foul and two for the technical, and then they got the ball. Dover scored 11 points in the last minute.”
The Green Wave would then grasp the lead the rest of the way despite several successful three-point shots attempts by Londonderry, and the Lancers had to face the fact that their uniforms would be going into mothballs while the upstart Dover group moved on to a quarterfinal-round game with third-ranked Bedford.
“I have been putting a huge emphasis on being focused and disciplined, but unfortunately we missed a few lay-ups and went 4-12 from the foul line, which did not put us in the position to win the game,” said coach Stanton.
Dover was led by game-high scorer and senior guard Devin Cady, who drew the key May foul and hit some big free-throws down the stretch on the way to 25 points. Londonderry got 20 from Dakota Bertrand and 13 from Shane McNamara. Those two stalwarts combined for all six of the Lancers’ three-point buckets.
The LHS contingent began dealing with challenges even before the 2017-18 season began when junior standout Ethan Garofalo was lost to knee and ankle injuries. But the squad showed a skill and intestinal fortitude in having a season that, in quite a few ways, was highly productive.
“The team has been through a lot of adversity this season, and I’m proud of how resilient they were. And being able to go 12-6 with all that went on is something to be proud of,” said the LHS coach. “Just a few weeks ago we lost to Dover 81-45, and I’m proud of how my guys responded and fought hard to put us in a position to win. This is certainly a tough way to finish such an exciting and remarkable season, but I thank the seniors for all of their hard work, dedication, and for stepping up to the different challenges they faced throughout their careers. And I know they will all be successful with whatever they put their minds to.”
Dover then went on to beat the number three seed, Bedford 45-43, on Saturday March 10, to advance to the semifinals.