Londonderry (N.H.) boys hoop off to surprise start

January, 14, 2014
Jan 14
12:26
AM ET
Take a look at New Hampshire’s Division I boys basketball standings, and you’ll see all the expected names at the top.

Trinity of Manchester, last year’s Division I champion, is alone in first place with a 4-0 record. Bishop Guertin of Nashua, last year’s runner-up, and Nashua South, a semifinalist a year ago, are both 3-0. Manchester Central, which beat Trinity in the Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament, is 2-0; so is Merrimack, which has the reigning Division I Player of the Year in senior guard Eric Gendron.

The only other unbeaten team? Londonderry, a school known more for football, baseball and its marching band than its boys basketball program. The Lancers have never won a state title in boys basketball or even reached a championship game, but they have a chance to improve their record to 4-0 when they play at Spaulding of Rochester tonight.

Londonderry has a first-year head coach in Nate Stanton, who was an assistant at Salem each of the last two seasons. The Lancers also have a handful of above-average marksmen.

The Lancers have made 26 3-pointers in their three victories, which has Stanton a bit concerned.

“That’s our problem,” Stanton said. “I want to attack the basket. We rely way too much on the 3 and it gets us in trouble.

“Our biggest thing is defense and full-court pressure, and the kids are buying in.”

In addition to its three Division I victories, Londonderry went 2-1 in the Greater Lowell Holiday Basketball Tournament. The team’s loss came against Chelmsford, which went on to win the tournament.

There’s no one go-to guy on Londonderry’s roster. Instead, the Lancers have a bunch of guard-forward types who can all score when called upon.

Freshman guard Jake Coleman scored a team-high 16 points (four 3-pointers) when Londonderry opened its season with a 74-52 victory over Manchester Memorial; junior Marc Corey tossed in a game-high 23 (four 3-pointers) during Londonderry’s 64-63 victory over Winnacunnet of Hampton; and senior Drew Coveney scored a game-high 18 (four 3-pointers) when Londonderry beat West 66-34.

Coveney, who didn’t play last season because of a knee injury, made 27 three-pointers as a sophomore.

“They’re all interchangeable,” Winnacunnet coach Jay McKenna said. “All shoot. All handle. All do a lot of really nice things.”

“We do have some good shooters,” Stanton added. “Every night anybody can step up. We need to play unselfish because we have multiple guys who can put in 20. We’re good, but we still have more to work on.”

Here’s another encouraging sign if you’re a Londonderry fan: Each of the team’s three victories have come on the road. Tougher tests await, however. Stanton will likely find out much more about his team when the Lancers play back-to-back games against Bishop Guertin and Central later this month.

“They shot the ball very well against us,” Memorial coach Jack Quirk said. “If they continue to shoot the ball like that they’re going to win a ton of games.”

Roger Brown covers New Hampshire High School Sports for ESPN Boston. Follow him on Twitter: @603SportsMedia.

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