Just got home from Merrimack High. It was a hard fought, entertaining basketball game. Londonderry was down 18-8 in the second quarter, but they win it 53-47. No Watson + no free throws = no win for the Tomahawks.
Senior forward Eric Watson was not medically cleared to play in this game. He would have been able to play on Saturday, but unfortunately Merrimack isn't moving on.
Like I said, another big factor here was free throw shooting. Merrimack shot just 14/25 (56%), while Londonderry was very good from the line shooting 13/18 (72%).
Merrimack loses this game, but you certainly cannot blame Dimitri Floras. The 6'0 freshman guard scored 25 points, including 11 in the 3rd quarter. Not too shabby for a kid who is not only a freshman but was playing in his first ever tournament game. He's been doing it all year for the Tomahawks, but this was yet another huge game for Floras.
After Merrimack was up 18-8, Londonderry went on a 9-0 run to make it a 1 point game, 18-17 midway through the second quarter. The Lancers took a 24-23 halftime lead, ending the quarter on a 16-5 run. This run was the difference in the game. It was led by Mike Colby and Jake Finnegan. It was also aided by missed free throws by Merrimack.
The second half began as the "Floras vs. Colby Show." Dimitri scored 8 and Colby had 5 in the first 3 minutes of the half. They were matching each other shot for shot. Merrimack led 36-34 after 3 quarters. But the momentum really started to swing in Londonderry's favor when 5'10" senior guard CJ Flanders drilled a three at the buzzer to end the quarter.
To begin the fourth, Colby continued to hit shots and Finnegan, a 6'2" senior, made some inside buckets and was grabbing a ton of rebounds. Londonderry flat out had more gas left in the tank in the game's final frame. And Dimitri Floras was the only guy putting points on the board for Merrimack, and you need more than 1 guy to carry the load. Other players were getting to the line but missing foul shots. Tyler Amigo and Brian Goodridge shot a combined 2/8 from the charity stripe, with most of those misses coming in the fourth quarter. The absence of Watson really hurt Merrimack, especially late in the game.
Colby fouled out with 3:15 left in the ballgame. At that time the Lancers were up 44-40, so it looked like Merrimack still might have a chance with the opposition's best player and best scorer done for the game. After Dimitri made a steal and layup at the other end it was only a 1 point game, 44-43. But then Londonderry went on a 6-0 run to take a 50-43 lead with just under a minute left in regulation. Flanders once again hit a big three in this stretch.
Flanders was VERY quiet for most of the game. He went scoreless the whole first half and for most of the third quarter. He only hit a couple of shots but they were BIG ones. He also went 3/4 from the free throw line down the stretch.
On another injury note, Londonderry 6'5" senior center Jeff Bintz returned to the Lancer lineup for the first time in 3 and a half weeks. Bintz had been out with an ankle injury. He only played about 6 or 7 minutes tonight, going scoreless with 2 rebounds. Look for his playing time to increase vs. BG in the quarterfinals. Picking up the slack for Bintz when he was out of the lineup were Eric Doucette, Nick Martinez and Ian McMullen.
Dimitri Floras had 25 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block to lead Merrimack. His older brother Anthony Floras only had 3 points, but played very good defense all game long. For Londonderry, Mike Colby (pictured right) led the way with 17 points before fouling out with 3:15 left. Finnegan had 10 points and 18 rebounds. Matt Sanborn and CJ Flanders also played well for the Lancers. Sanborn missed the first 12 games of the season due to a suspension.
Londonderry will have a tough test Saturday night vs. BG. The key to that game will be how the Lancers handle Guertin's full court pressure. That is the strength of the Cardinals' team, and Coach Gustavson's team could struggle against them.
"We don't have a point guard" admitted Gustavson after tonight's win. "We haven't played those guys in 2 years. But I live across the street from Mike Fitzpatrick, and we give each other film sometimes. Hopefully he'll give me some film of Bishop Guertin and we'll come up with something."
As for Merrimack, it is the end of the road for a very good senior class. Anthony Floras, Eric Watson, Travis Maser, Matt Hardwick and Tyler Garstang. That is arguably the best senior class of any team in the state this year. They will surely be missed next season by Tomahawks coach Tim Goodridge.
Now that the season is over for Merrimack, you will really start to hear the "Dimitri to BG" rumors swirling around. I have heard that this might happen. But I didn't want to say anything or have too many rumors about it on here while Merrimack's season was still alive, because it would be a distraction for them. But now that their season is over I'm sure the rumors will escalate. All that I ask is that if something is definite, great you can post it. But please don't post something about it unless it is definitely happening. One thing is for sure, with the way Dimitri played tonight and the way he played all year, he will be a big asset to which ever team he plays for next season.
In addition to playing basketball, Finnegan was also an all-state football player for Londonderry this past season. Next fall he will be attending UMass-Lowell on a baseball scholarship. That makes 5 players from New Hampshire in the Class of 2010 who have baseball scholarships. Here is the list:
Jake Finnegan - Londonderry...UMass-Lowell
Nate Jones - Portsmouth...Wake Forest
Zach Mathieu - Pinkerton...Franklin Pierce
Mike Montville - Portsmouth...Georgia Tech
Jake Woodward - Lebanon...St. John's