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By: Ross Laorenza
The Londonderry Lancers knocked off the Spaulding Red Raiders with a come from behind 58-51 win to advance to the school’s first championship game. The Lancers trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half, before storming back in the fourth quarter. Seniors Cody Ball, Joey Kwiatkowski and Marc Corey led the way down the stretch for Londonderry with the Red Raider’s Darian Berry trying to keep pace. Londonderry also got some great shooting from sophomore Jacob Coleman. Coleman scored a team high 19 points, including 5 of 9 from three point range.
“He really steps up in big games,” said head Coach Nate Stanton, on Coleman. “He loves these types on environments. We got him open. They (Spaulding) obviously took away Cody and Marc for a little bit, but we got him open and he took over at the right time.” Coleman opened the scoring in the first half with a nice turn-around jumper in the lane. He showcased some excellent quickness two possessions later, spinning around and defender to get to the basket. Then he fed Kwiatkowski with a no-look pass off to his left for another score. 6-0 Lancers.
Spaulding fought hard to get back into the game and eventually take the lead. Darian Berry led the way offensively for Spaulding with 22 points. Christopher States got Spaulding on the board with a quick cut to the hoop, then Berry put up a wild shot on his way to the ground that that found its way in. After a free throw from Kwiatkowski, Berry hit two of his own to cut the Londonderry lead down to one point; 7-6. The Red Raiders took their first lead of the game off an inbound play. Austin Gagne got open underneath and put up a hook shot of Corey for two. Londonderry would surge ahead with under a minute to play. Marc Corey got fouled underneath after receiving an inbounds pass from Cody Ball.
His free throws put Londonderry back on top. After a Spaulding turnover, Corey fed ball for an easy layup. With 10 second left Darian Berry got the ball over half court and launched an off balance three….He banked it home and after one the game is tied, Londonderry: 11, Spaulding: 11.
“Darian is our leader out there,” said Spaulding head coach Tim Cronin. “Everyone understands their role on this team, and they understand that Darian is the guy that gets us going.”
With Berry providing a spark, Spaulding propelled themselves into the lead in the second quarter. States scored on the first Red Raider possession to put Spaulding up 2. Londonderry answered with a basket inside from Brandon Radford. Radford saw extended playing time off the bench, filling in for Nate Gaw.
From there Spaulding went on a 12-0 run. Brock Paquette connected for a deep two. Anthony Ciccotelli grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up for two more. He went to the line for two free throws after executing a nice pick-and-roll with Berry. Ciccotelli made 1 of two. On the next Spaulding possession Darian Berry grabbed an offensive board with three Lancers standing around him and got the put back to fall. Time out Londonderry. 20-13
Almost as impressive as their patient offensive attack was the Spaulding defense scheme. The opened in man-to-man but switched to a zone in the second quarter. Cal Connelly deflected three straight Lancer shots on one possession and eventually his teammates would grab the rebound and head the other way. As recognition for his hard work at one end, the ball found its way to Connelly who went to the line after being fouled. He made both free throws and then to
cap the 12-0 run Cal sank the three from the top of the key that sent a roar all the way through the Spaulding student section.
Down 12, Londonderry needed an answer and they found it in the person of Jake Coleman. He hit back-to-back three’s to cut the deficit to 6 points with less than two minutes to play in the half. Those two shots stole a little momentum away from Spaulding after their huge run.
Darian Berry scored with a scoop shot after a nice backdoor cut to but Spaulding back up by 8 points. Then Christopher States scored to put the lead at 10 points. Brandon Radford grabbed the last points of the half finding his way inside for two. At halftime, Spaulding: 29, Londonderry: 21.
The Red Raiders continued to run red hot as the third quarter began with baskets from Berry and Ciccotelli. Cody Ball scored to get himself in rhythm shooting after a 1 for 7 first half. Then, Kwiatkowski stole the ball and took it the rest of the way for the score and a foul, all though he front rimmed the free throw.
After a jumper from Ciccoltelli, Jake Coleman connected again from three point range to pull Londonderry back within 9 points. 37-28, Spaulding. A great hustle play from Nate Gaw created a turnover that put Kwiatkowski at the line shooting two. He made 1 of 2 at the line. The Lancers turned things around defensively in the second half holding down the Spaulding attack.
“Defensive intensity was kind of lackadaisical in the first half, so in the second half and during halftime Coach Stanton was making sure we picked it up,” said senior Marc Corey. “We picked it up and our offense works off our defense so shots started falling.”
The Lancers closed the third on an 8-5 run including a step back three from Coleman and another free from Kwiatkowski. After rushing their last few possessions, Spaulding slowed their offense down and found Brock Paquette open for three. Jake Coleman had a chance for three more with less than 4 second in the 3rd. His three-quarter buzzer beater hit off back iron and out, but the shot attempt was an impressive feat all its own. At the end of the 3rd, Spaulding: 42, Londonderry: 37.
Marc Corey opened the scoring in the fourth with a shot off glass. Darian Berry looked to build on the Spaulding lead but was called for a charge. On the next Red Raider possession Anthony Ciccotelli found his way to the free throw line, making both. 44-39, Red Raiders.
After that the Lancers surged into the lead. Cody Ball scored with an impressive basket drive, going over his defender to get the basket and the foul, missing the and-one. Kwiatkowski hit two free throws to put Londonderry within one. Timeout Spaulding.
As Marc Corey mention earlier, the Lancer offense flows off their defense. Corey gave Londonderry their first lead of the second half with a fastbreak layup. Cody Ball blocked Darian Berry and then launched a three pointer at the other end. Lancers lead by 4 with 4:58 remaining. Berry hit a floater in the lane to cut the Spaulding deficit to 2 point. The Lancers called a timeout with 3:37 remaining.
With 3:09 to play Joey Kwiatkowski burst down the baseline and scored drawing contact from Berry. It was his third personal. Kwiatkowski hit the and-one to put Londonderry up 5 points, 51-46.
“I think it was that one play we ran a couple of times, someone from the block set it up,” said Kwiatkowski on his explosive play. “It was either the guy was coming down from the pick or I had the open lane. I was beating the guy every time, so I figured just got for it and try to get to the rim.”
Darian Berry scored driving the lane for cut the Lancer lead to three and a crucial play followed. Christopher States was able to come up with a steal near half court, but he went up too strong for a layup and the ball bounded out. It would have cut the lead down to one. Instead, Cody Ball scored one a layup at the other end for Londonderry.
Berry was fouled with 1:58 remaining in the game. He went 1 for 2 at the line. On the ensuing Lancer possession Cody Ball dished to Brandon Radford who was fouled on his way to the hoop. Radford went 1 for 2 giving Londonderry a 5 point cushion.
With 1:10 remaining Darian Berry launched a three pointer, put it rimmed out. Spaulding got the rebound and the ball made its way quickly to Berry. He missed again from long range and as the ball headed toward the end line Chris States grabbed it, but his foot was on the line.
Two free throws from Cody Ball put the Lancers up 56-49 with less than a minute to play. Anthony Ciccotelli scored inside after a miss from the perimeter, but the Red Raiders really needed three in that situation, down 7 points. They would be the last two points Spaulding scored. Marc Corey hit his final two free throws with 22 seconds remaining that capped the scoring. A mad scramble at the other end ran the final second off the block with Corey grabbing a defensive rebound to seal it. Final score, Londonderry: 58, Spaulding: 51.
“We kind of just got together and we realized, it’s our senior year and we didn’t come this far to lose in the semi-finals,” said Joey Kwiatkowski on his team’s second half comeback.
“We learned to play in the tougher games, to keep our composure and it’s definitely paid off at this time of year,” added Marc Corey.
Jake Coleman led the Lancers with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Joey Kwiatkowski finished with 16 points and 4 boards. Cody Ball came alive in the second half scoring 8 of his 10 points, to go along with 7 rebounds. Marc Corey finished with 8 points, including the clutch free throws at the end of the game.
Darian Berry led all scorers with 22 points in his final game for Spaulding. He also led his team with 9 rebounds. Anthony Ciccotelli finished with 11 points. Christopher States totaled 6 points and 6 rebounds. Brock Paquette finished with 5 points.
“They played their hearts out, they really did,” said Spaulding coach Tim Cronin. “They did a great job. Obviously the ball didn’t bounce our way in the second half. We came here to win; we just didn’t get the job done. I’m very proud of the senior group we had this year. They’re an outstanding group. They’re the ones that got us to this point and they’ll be sorely missed.”
Londonderry advances to play #3 seed and heated rival Pinkerton. “I think it’s going to be exciting,” said Lancer head coach Nate Stanton. “There’s nothing better than going against your rival at UNH.”
From Durham, Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook