There were definitely reasons for local high school basketball fans to be excited about last Friday night’s boys’ hoop battle between the rival Londonderry High Lancers and Pinkerton Academy Astros in Derry.
And when that contest was over, there were many reasons for the near-capacity crowd to tell friends and family members that they’d missed something special by not attending the game, which was won by the undefeated visiting Lancers by the slim tally of 67-61.
Points of interest were many and varied in the playoff-like game, which was part of the Ball Family Trophy games between the two local schools and kept the large and vocal crowd poised on the edges of their seats from start to finish.
Londonderry High senior star guard Cody Ball, a member of the same Ball clan for whom the winter sports series is named, had an uncharacteristic first half, missing shots from all over the offensive zone despite regularly netting anywhere from 20 to 30 points in nearly every Lancer game.
Ball finished that opening half with two points, but to absolutely nobody’s surprise he began hitting shot after shot during the second half and finished up with an impressive 22 points.
The only other player – for either team – who did more scoring was LHS sophomore guard Jake Coleman, who kept his team going step for step with Pinkerton while Cody Ball struggled and standout senior forward Marc Corey was relegated to the Lancers’ bench by LHS coach Nate Stanton following what the coach called “a practice issue.”
Coleman finished the night with 25 points, Ball bagged 22, and Corey contributed eight in the second half as Londonderry shoved its Division I record up to a perfect 9-0.
Pinkerton fell to 8-2 in the tight division after winning three consecutive divisional contests.
The teams were tied at 11-11 after one quarter and 25-25 at halftime, but the visiting Lancers grasped a four-point advantage of 46-42 heading into quarter four.
Stanton’s squad never owned what one might call a “comfortable” lead in this battle, but it grasped a seven-point advantage of 65-58 with a little less than two minutes to go. And Londonderry dug in even harder on defense and didn’t let its host get any closer than four points down the rest of the way.
Coleman’s great offensive work in the first half – 14 points – paced the Lancers until Ball, who was both stoic and business-like when his shots weren’t falling in the first half, and Corey got down to the business of pumping home points in half number two.
“Jake came up absolutely huge for us, and our defense also came up big, especially late,” said Stanton.
Pinkerton wowed the big crowd with electrifying above-the-rim play, especially from slam-dunking senior center David Faulks, who netted 20 points. But in the end Londonderry’s cool, calm, and collected performance won the day.