LONDONDERRY — Maybe things came too easy for Londonderry at the start. Maybe the adrenaline of the first playoff game wore off too fast. Maybe Merrimack's zone defense became too stingy.
Whatever the reason, the third seeded Lancers came out blazing, scoring the game's first 11 points in less than two minutes of action, then iced up with only four more points over the next 12 minutes. While the fans of the No. 14 Tomahawks whooped and hollered due to their team's eight-point lead, Londonderry head coach John Fagula stayed calm and fought hard to keep his squad on track.
Using a tried-and-true solution, Fagula extended his trapping defense full-court and it easily did the trick. A pair of late 3-pointers drew the Lancers within three at the break as Merrimack had trouble getting into its sets when it had the ball and Londonderry's energy spilled over to its own offensive end.
Behind the persistant shooting of senior Callie King (25 points including five 3's), the Lancers ran away for a 63-45 victory and will host No. 6 Nashua North (11-7) in the quarterfinals tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
Londonderry (15-4) defeated North, 46-32 on Feb. 19 as part of the Lancers' current nine-game winning streak.
"I'm proud of how the kids came back," Fagula said. "They hit some shots at the end of the second quarter to get some confidence and the third quarter was just spectacular."
After a frigid first-half start where King, despite having nine points, missed 7 of 8 3-point attempts, Fagula told the team to stay the course.
"I told them not to be afraid to take their shots," said Fagula, "don't be afraid to do what we're doing. A lot of kids, when they're not on, won't be looking for their offense but they need to be more aggressive."