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Londonderry stuns Merrimack girls basketball

By Hector Longo - Staff Writer | Mar 7, 2020

Telegraph photo by HECTOR LONGOGillian Waller finds the going tough against the tight Londonderry defense in Saturday night's Division I girls basketball state quarterfinal.

MERRIMACK – It was one of those nights where offense for No. 2 Merrimack felt like AP Calculus, and that simply can’t happen to a basketball team in the state playoffs.

Londonderry High, the No. 10 seed, reeled off its second straight upset of the postseason, leaping to a 12-4 lead after one and never facing a serious threat from the Tomahawks, who were eliminated, 49-37.

“I’m going to give all the credit to Londonderry. They played an awesome game,” said Merrimack coach Mike Soucy. “They’re a well-coached, disciplined team, played great defense tonight. They earned it.”

Nothing went right for Merrimack, which closes out at 16-3.

The Lancers solved the Tomahawks press repeatedly and Merrimack, in the halfcourt game, couldn’t get shots to drop.

“They’re a guard-heavy team. So they’re hard to press,” said Soucy. “We relied on that all year.The press isn’t just about turning teams over. It’s about wearing teams down. The problem is when you’re coming from behind, you’re wearing yourself down too.”

Fouls piled up in the first half, at one point it was 11 Tomahawk fouls to two, compounding the issues. The lead at the break was 24-10 Lancers and the avalanche of whistles never stopped.

In all, Merrimack committed 28 personals to 15 for the Lancers. Londonderry was 28 for 36 from the stripe, compared to Merrimack’s 9 of 12.

“It’s part of the game. When you’re an aggressive team defensively, you’re going to commit some fouls and we did,” said Soucy. “It put us in a hole. I didn’t know how many, but I knew it was a lot.”

Merrimack would get no closer than eight points in the second half, a couple times, the first coming on Theresa Twardosky’s three at 38-30, but the offense never got in synch.

“It’s hard on the seniors. They worked so hard to get to this point, to get that first-round bye and have the opportunity to play for a state championship,” said Soucy, “To have it go down like this, it’s a hard pill to swallow. I’m so proud of them and everything they accomplished all year.”

Colleen Furlong (4 3-pointers) and Ashley Rourke paced the Lancers, who opened the tourney with a win at No. 7 Pinkerton, with 14 points apiece. Senior Riley Crampton paced Merrimack with 11, and Twardosky finished with nine on a three second-half 3-pointers.

The Cinderella Lancers head to Exeter High School on Thursday to face the Memorial Goffstown winner in the first of two state semifinals that night at 6 p.m.

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