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In Praise of 1 Win Londonderry

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Post  Tuesday and Friday on Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:00 pm

The first 2/3 of the season in boy's D1 has been so crazy so far that I'm going to do something crazy. I am going to give praise to Londonderry. The Lancers are 1 -10. If the season ended today they would be one of 3 teams in the 19 team D1 to not make the playoffs. So, you ask why? I watched them lose a heartbreaker to Alvirne 44 - 40 on Tuesday night. Ask any Alvirne supporter what they saw from Londonderry on Tuesday. I'm sure any Bronco supporter will tell you they escaped with the victory. True that Alvirne's Sean Dunn was not 100%. What is also true is Londonderry played well for 32 minutes and had Alvirne on the ropes. I told a friend of mine Londonderry won 31 of the 32 minute game. Londonderry was the better team for 99% of this game. They had a couple of tough offensive rolls off the rim in the last couple of minutes while Alvirne knocked down 4 FTs.

I didn't give a thought to Londonderry with all their tough losses. The Lancers lost to Salem by 3, South by 5, Pinkerton by 3, Dover by 3 and North by 2. I just figured all these teams took Londonderry lightly and relaxed against them. I wasn't taking notice. Then came the Merrimack game. Londonderry nearly won that game. A Jackson King 3, which wasn't the purest of shots, won the game for Merrimack(Actually, it happened against South as Bert later pointed out in this thread). Another tough Lancer loss, but this time I took notice. I said to myself there has to be something at Londonderry and I need to see it for myself.

After seeing Londonderry here is what makes them a very good 1 - 10 team:

1) 5'8 junior point guard Andre Simmond. Simply the best kept secret in D1 boy's basketball. If he was on Trinity, Merrimack, Central etc., he would be garnering major attention for all state. He is not a great shooter or scorer. What he does is handle the ball, makes great passes and I can't emphasize this enough....makes GREAT DECISIONS on the court. There is no statistic for great decisions. Some times what you do or don't do makes your team better. Simmond makes every Lancer better. He is in total control when he has the ball. I saw him make about 5 great assists and then he made one of the best assists I've ever seen:

A Londonderry player made a pass from half court to Simmond who was at the FT line with his back to the basket. There was a Bronco defender on him. The pass from 1/2 court was high. Simmond had to jump high to try to get possession from the Bronco. As Simmond jumped out of the corner of his eye he saw a mate streaking towards the basket on the opposite wing. At the full apex Simmond reached with both hands, still with his back to the basket and tipped the ball towards the streaking mate hitting him with a perfect pass which he laid in. It was the greatest pass I've seen in a HS basketball game in a long time. It was Larry Bird-sian. The situation, athleticism, court vision and end result of a basket is why I devote a paragraph to one pass.



2) Londonderry has decent scorers with some seniors. 5'10 Ben Flanders, 6'2 Ryan McClure, 6'0 JR Winn and 6'2 center Keegan Smith, while not being great scorers in their own right, combine in numbers to give Londonderry a scoring foundation for every game. One player who can go off on a given night for 10 to 16 is 5'11 sophomore Andrew Coveney. This rail thin long haired sophomore makes you say, "heh kid how come you didn't play in the JV game?" Coveney has a sweet stroke. Think Nolan Flynn of West. They have sets for him in their regular offense and on out of bounds plays. Get used to the term "Dagger 3" and Andrew Coveney being used in the same sentence for the next 2 1/3 years.

3) Londonderry has just enough size to compete with other team's front lines. The aforementioned McClure and Smith compete hard against taller players. The Lancers also have 6'6 freshman Rob Wilson who came off the bench and did a lot of positive things against Alvirne.

4) Coaching and style. Coach Jeff Gustafson does a great job with this crew. He has the ball in Simmond's hands all the time and the Lancers are very disciplined on offense. They rarely force up a shot. They run their sets, try to get the opponents tired of playing defense and then Simmond finds some one on a back door cut or kicks it to Coveney for a sweet looking 3 attempt. Coach Gustafson knows what he has for talent and coaches accordingly. If you notice most of Londonderry's games have been in the 30s, 40s and 50s. They did beat Spaulding 39 to 37 for their only win.



Why all the close losses? Well, Simmond isn't a great scorer. I don't see a consistent scorer for them night in and night out. Londonderry really doesn't have a player who you can bank on for 14 to 18 points on any given night. While their bigs do a serviceable job, I'm sure there are some nights where some bigs from the opponent really have their way. I will throw in the term tough luck. The Lancers had an open lay up attempt with 12 seconds left to tie the Broncos that came up short. I'm sure in a few of their other close losses the ball hasn't bounced right for them.

Londonderry has a couple of tough ones on the schedule starting tonight at West and next Tuesday at Trinity. The Lancers could be 1 - 12 on Valentine's night. They close their season with Exeter, Timberlane, Memorial, Keene and Concord. Now, just think if Londonderry could win 4 of their next 7 and get in the dance and get a #15 or #16 seed. Let's just say they get a rematch with Merrimack which hasn't had the best month of March's the past few years and have the Floras situation in doubt. Guards are key in the playoffs. If Londonderry qualifies for the playoffs I'll be more than happy to put the ball in Andre Simmond's hands and let him operate in a pressure packed playoff game.



There you have it. I just devoted a lot of space to a 1 win team in the month of February. At least if the ball starts rolling Londonderry's way and they do some some damage in the last 1/3 of the season and the playoffs, you'll know why. In this season of surprises and parity in D1 boys nothing would surprise me, not even a playoff run by a team that wouldn't qualify for the playoffs as of Feb. 9th.



Check out the following comments about Londonderry from an article in the Telegraph this week:



About 45 minutes before Friday night’s game between their two teams in Merrimack, Nashua South boys basketball coach Nate Mazerolle and Merrimack mentor Tim Goodridge sat side by side in the bleachers, watching the junior varsity game.

Somebody asked if the two were discussing how good Londonderry was.

“Exactly,” Goodridge replied. “Best 1-8 team I can remember.”

Mazerolle quickly concurred. Each was going off a recent experience with the Lancers. Just three nights earlier the Tomahawks, currently sitting atop Division I with a 9-1 record, escaped Londonderry with a 41-40 victory.

So maybe the Tomahawks, as currently constructed, aren’t the best team in Division I. There are persuasive arguments in favor of Manchester Central (7-3), who was trailing at home after three quarters on Friday night against Londonderry before rallying for a 54-47 win.

Londonderry has lost by two points to Nashua North (7-3), by two points to Spaulding of Rochester (7-4) and by three points to Salem (8-3) and Pinkerton (6-3).

The Lancers are 1-9, and if the season ended Monday, would miss the playoffs in a division in which 16 of 19 teams qualify for postseason play.

The word parity is often tossed around during the Division I boys basketball season, but often in the “can’t take anyone lightly” or “on a given night” vein.


Last edited by Tuesday and Friday on Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:01 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : King's game winning 3 came against South, not Londonderry.)

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Post  Bert54the1 on Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:27 pm

Merrimack survived their vist to Londonderry on the backs of Tyler Gendron 21 points (18 in the second half) and 13 from his brother, Eric. They scored 34 of the teams 41 points. It was T. Gendron's 3-ball that broke Londonderry's heart. cheers (Similar to Austin Rivers' dagger against UNC.) King did not score in the Londonderry game. His big 3 came at home vs South in another 1-point win. The 1st quarter saw the Lancers on top 7-2. Sleep I heard it was a rock fight in the first half, 6 total fouls were called. Coveney led Londonderry with 17.

Spaulding edged Merrimack in a battle because McGregor got hot. 14 points. 4 threes in a short stretch of the 3rd and 4th including a buzzer beater that cut a into what would have been an 8-point deficit at the end of 3.

I've been writing about the virtues of South and Londonderry for a few days now. I, unlike one of my fellow bloggers, do not think they are a "poor" team.

From what I have seen (and heard), they both play hard, are well coached, execute offensive sets, and are fairly disciplined. Although both could have won more game had they been completley disciplined They do not have the most talented players that have stepped onto the hardwood, but NH basketball is a physical game, if you play strong, are offensively patient and fundamental, as well as being able to shoot it a little, than you can compete.

Spaulding is one of those kind of teams that I just mentioned, but, unfortunately, they have a few challenges ahead. I liked the way they battled BG earlier in the year. Keep an eye on them.

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Post  Tuesday and Friday on Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:40 pm

Bert, thanks for the clarification on the King 3 pointer. I knew it was a game winner and I knew it was not the prettiest shot, but got the job done.

I think it benefits greatly to see a team in person. It's easy to look at scores, box scores and articles and formulate an opinion on a team. Until you see a team, the players and the coaching, it would be wise not to pigeon hole a team. I could be way off base and the Lancers might lose 5 of their next 7 games and not qualify for the playoffs. 2 coaches I admire, Nate Mazz and Goody, share my opinion of Londonderry. That's good enough for me and gave me the foundation, along with seeing them lose a heart breaker to Alvirne, to write the article.

When Alvirne lost their first 6 games last year I believe, there weren't too many people talking about them until they caught fire, had a strong second half and won their first 2 playoff games before losing to Trinity in the semi finals.

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Post  Tuesday and Friday on Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:53 pm

One other thing about Londonderry's Andre Simmond. If there is any one who could have bad body language, whine and complain and bring his team down it would be him. He's the leader of a 1 - 10 team. He could fold his mental tent and pack away this Lancer season, but I get the feeling Simmond is mentally tough and can make this team rise above their tough start to the season. When I see some of the immaturity on a lot of players who are on other teams with much better records to this point of the season than Londonderry it makes me wonder. If you put Simmond on some teams that really need direction and leadership, these teams would go from 4 or 5 loss teams right up to the top, I assure you.


If you get the feeling I might be rooting for Londonderry for the next 4 to perhaps 6 or 7 weeks, you are correct.


Last edited by Tuesday and Friday on Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:51 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post  HaleyNHsports on Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:54 pm

Good stuff T & F!

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Post  GNG on Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:02 pm

"Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing." From my boy Vince Lombardi.


Next up for the 1-11 Londonderry Lancers, the Trinity Pioneers. affraid

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Post  Tuesday and Friday on Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:56 pm

I believe I did say they probably would be 1 - 12 after playing West and Trinity.

Let's see how the last 5 games of their schedule treats the Lancers.

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Post  goldenbear on Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:57 pm

does anyone have the link ot the Jocarl article could not find it on line at teh union leader

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Post  SeacoastDad on Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:15 am

Londonderry's last 5 opponents currently have a combined record of 14-42. They should beat Timberlane, Keene and Concord, very possibly Exeter, and maybe Memorial, leaving them with 4 or 5 wins.

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Post  Tuesday and Friday on Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:22 am

If Londonderry could match up with a #2 or #3 seed not named Trinity in the prelim game...... Well, I wouldn't want to be that #2 or #3 team.

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