By: Ross Laorenza
The Londonderry Lancers have won the D-I girls championship the past two seaons and started the 2015-2016 campaign with a solid win over Alvirne, 51-32. The Lancers got great contributions on the night from seniors Kate Balcom (16 points) and Jaclyn Luckhardt (11 points, 8 assists). Junior Kelsey Coffey showed off her range and quick strike ability with four 3-pointers.
"Kelsey always has the green light," said coach Nick Theos. "I don't think there's many shooters better than her, with more range."
Starting along with Balcom, Luckhardt and Coffey for the Lancers were senior Kat Wells and freshman Ashley Evans. Evans did not look phased in her first game. She showcased the ability to create space under the basket on offense and altered several Bronco shots on the defensive end.
While Evans had a clear height advantage over everyone on the court at 6'2" some of the more physical player for Alvirne were able to make things difficult for her. Junior Marissa Sweeney matched up several times with Evans and drew two fouls on the freshman. Also starting for the Broncos were seniors Samantha Ratte and Jess Baker, and juniors Katie Bellomo and Amanda Wetmore.
Wetmore started the scoring in the game giving Alvirne and early 2-0 lead, but it didn't last long. A 9-0 run by the Lancers followed, capped by a Coffey 3-pointer.
Sweeney stopped the Bronco scoring drought with a 3-pointer of her own to pull Alvrine within 4 points, 9-5. At the other end of the floor Ashley Evans scored her first 2-points of the season in a match-up against Sweeney.
Samantha Ratte scored underneath with some solid effort to cut the lead down to 4 points, 11-7. With less than 10 seconds left Luckhardt went the length of the floor for the Lancers hitting a lay-up at the buzzer. At the end of the first, Londonderry: 13, Alvrine: 7.
The lead quickly grew to 10 points for the Lancers with a basket from Balcom and another Coffey 3-pointer. Sweeney tried to keep Alvirne in the game hitting 3 of 4 free throws in the 2nd, but the shots for Londonderry kept falling. Five straight points from Jaclyn Luckhardt saw the Lancer lead grow to 25-10 with 3:30 to go in the half.
It appeared the Alvirne wanted to test Ashley Evans' interior defense, but all too often the entry passes would sail out of bounds or get tipped and stolen away. Costly turnovers. The Broncos only scored 5 points in the 2nd quarter; all of them coming at the free throw line. At the half Londonderry leads 27-12.
"We were expecting a tight, hard fought game and for the first half that's what they gave us," said Lancer coach Nick Theos. "Luckily we had a nice stretch there in the second quarter, where we pulled away a little bit and then in the 3rd quarter, the first 3 or 4 minutes, I told the kids we needed to end this thing."
Londonderry responded to their coach's call with an impressive 9-2 run to start the second half. Shots from Evans, Coffey and Balcom swelled the lead to 22 points, 36-14.
Amanda Wetmore hit consecutive shots for the Broncos to cut the deficit in half, but Londonderry ended the quarter with a 9-0 run to head into the 4th with a commanding 45-18 lead.
Coach Theos was able to cycle in all of his players in tonight's opener, giving much needed experience to the younger members of the Lancer team. There is always room for improvement, but tonight's win showed the Lancers have what it takes to defend their back-to-back D-I titles. As the season progresses it will be interesting to see how Londonderry uses their young center with plenty of experience talent surrounding her.
Final score. Londonderry: 51, Alvirne: 32.
Kate Balcom and Kelsey Coffey tied with a game high 16 points. Jaclyn Luckhardt finished with 11 points, Ashley Evans scored 4.
Marissa Sweeney and Amanda Wetmore led the Broncos in scoring with 10 points each. They were their only players in double figures.
From Londonderry High School; Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook