LONDONDERRY — After one year at the helm of the Londonderry boys hoop program, Nate Stanton has pushed all the right buttons to have all the pieces in place.
The cupboard is stacked with talent. The talent plays hard, plays together and plays often, immersed in top summer and fall leagues.
But Stanton, like his predecessors, learned the hard way last night that one massive hurdle remains in a 68-64 Division 1 quarterfinal upset loss to Memorial.
“This school hasn’t been to UNH (for the state semifinals) in over a decade,” said Stanton. “And I think the kids take that as a bit of a hex.”
Londonderry played well in spurts but underwent too many dull shooting droughts, like the 2 of 15 to open the game, and Memorial, a 12-seed in number only, pounced on the opportunity.
“That’s not your typical 12 seed,” said Stanton of the Crusaders, who took out No. 5 Pinkerton on Tuesday, Londonderry last night and now will challenge No. 1 Manchester Central Monday night, at 7:30 p.m., at the University of New Hampshire.
“They weren’t together much of the year, but they are very dangerous and showed it tonight,” said Stanton.
Junior point guard Trevon Maughn tore through the Londonderry backcourt with what seemed like relative ease, leading all scorers with 34 points.
“We rotated different guys on him, but we just didn’t have an answer for him tonight,” said Stanton, whose club finishes at 15-5 in New Hampshire and 17-6 overall.
“We just didn’t shoot it well and didn’t play very well either.
“We need to be playing our best basketball right now, and we didn’t do that. We got away from all the things that went on this year to help make us a No. 4 seed.”
Junior Cody Ball led all Lancers with 21 points, and senior Drew Coveney added 13.
“We haven’t played in a crowd or with an atmosphere all year long, and tonight we were just getting used to it,” said Stanton.
Down a pair after one half, Londonderry watched Maughn take over the third quarter with 14 points on an array of lightning drives, quick-release threes and double-pumping hangers in the lane.
In a blink of an eye, the lead bumped to as many as a dozen, and at 49-40 to enter the fourth, it was a matter of keep-away, which Memorial did well-enough to advance.
Manchester Memorial 68, Londonderry 64
Division 1 quarterfinals
Memorial (68): Kabongo Ngalukukondi 5 5-7 15, Trevon Maughn 11 9-10 34, Malo Roumraj 2 2-4 6, Craig Preston 2 2-2 8, Brandon Scott 2 1-2 5, Totals 22 19-25 68
Londonderry (64): Caleb Green 1 0-0 2, Joseph Kwiatkowski 1 3-3 5, Nick Stevens 1 0-0 3, Jake Coleman 3 1-2 9, Cody Ball 8 1-2 21, Drew Coveney 4 3-5 13, Marc Corey 1 1-2 3, Max Coleman 2 3-4 8, Totals 21 12-18 64
3-pointers: M — Maughn 3, Preston 2; L — Stevens, J. Coleman 2, Ball 4, Coveney 2, M. Coleman
Manchester Memorial:13 16 20 19 — 68
Londonderry: 14 13 13 24 — 64