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Boys' Basketball: Cummings, Merrimack top Lancers

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 23. 2018 11:40PM

Londonderry's Ethan May goes for the hoop against Merrimack's Owen Ploss at Londonderry High on Tuesday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

LONDONDERRY — The Merrimack High boys’ basketball team got exactly what it needed on Tuesday.

The Tomahawks received 22 second-half points from Ian Cummings and survived nine clean looks by Londonderry in the final minute of the game to take a 45-44 victory. The win snapped a two-game losing skid and got Merrimack back to .500 at 4-4 on the season, but more importantly the Tomahawks now have a signature win under their belt.

“I thought we played great defense the entire game,” said Merrimack assistant coach Austin Denton. Tomahawks head coach Tim Goodridge was home with the flu. “The amount of times I said we needed one stop and a rebound on the bench over here (in the final minute). I was beside myself.”

It was quite the stunning win for Merrimack, which trailed 34-26 entering the fourth quarter and took its first lead of the game with 3:45 left to play. Five consecutive points from Cummings got Merrimack its final lead with 43 seconds to play.

The mad dash at the end started when Londonderry (5-2) missed four chances out of a timeout before Merrimack finally hauled down a defensive rebound. Merrimack gave the ball back to Londonderry with 20 seconds left after using three timeouts to set up a suitable inbounds play. The Lancers proceeded to get five more good shots up around a timeout in the final 20 seconds, including a front-rimmed 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“I think they were good looks after going over all the situational stuff we did,” Londonderry coach Nate Stanton said. “We had two layups where we didn’t get our balance. We just didn’t gather ourselves and rushed things. We’ve got to go over that a little bit more.”

The final result was Londonderry’s worst offensive output of the season. The Lancers scored 23 points over the final three quarters while being held scoreless in the second quarter.

“We kind of got away from what makes us a great team by not moving the ball or setting great screens or waiting for them,” said Stanton, whose Lancers got 31 of their points from Jack Anderson (20) and Cole Britting (11). “We were rushing and playing helter-skelter. … We came out well in the third quarter, but it’s a game of runs and we didn’t find a way to handle adversity well.”

The adversity suited Merrimack just fine. The Tomahawks scored only three points in the second quarter while holding Londonderry scoreless. Struggling through that early adversity was Cummings, who sat out the first quarter before picking up three fouls in three minutes in the second quarter.

Cummings came alive in the second half, including 14 points in Merrimack’s 19-point fourth. Cummings was hitting timely shots from everywhere with anything from highly-contested 3-pointers to tough lay-ins against heavy lane and rim protection by the Lancers. The only two leads Merrimack earned came on hoops by the senior.

“He was ready to go and very positive on the bench (while sitting in the first half),” Denton said. “He just started tackling the hoop, hitting shots and cheering on his teammates. Really couldn’t ask for anything more from him today.”

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