Tomahawks switch up D in win

MERRIMACK – The way things were going for the Merrimack High School boys basketball team last Thursday night, it wouldn’t matter how much the Tomahawks could score.

Londonderry was shredding Merrimack’s man-to-man defense, and by the middle of the second quarter, coach Tim Goodridge had seen enough.

For the first time all season, Goodridge switched the Tomahawks to a triangle-and-two defense, and the players were able to execute it well enough to pull out a 53-46 win over the Lancers.

"Defensively, we couldn’t play with them in the first half in our man-to-man," Goodridge said. "What saved us was the triangle (defense) and the kids worked hard in it and it worked pretty well.

"It’s the first time we’ve used it all year and we haven’t really practiced it much. I do remember we used it against them last year. You try to take their two best scorers away and make the other kids beat us. That’s the way it turned out."

Ian Roberts scored 18 of his game-high 23 points in the second half and Zak Kerr added 12 points, but Merrimack (9-2) turned the ball over 20 times.

But at the other end, the Tomahawks were able to hold Londonderry’s Jake Coleman and Cole Britting to a combined 11 points. Nate Gaw led the Lancers (4-6) with 11 points while Matt Corey had 10.

"Merrimack is a very physical team and a tough team," Londonderry coach Nate Stanton said. "They did a good job with (the triangle defense). It slowed us down, but we were open in the middle and that’s where we had most of our shots and didn’t capitalize.

"Offensively, we didn’t just rely on the 3 like we did against Pinkerton (on Monday), but we missed a lot. We were 5 for 31 in the second half and you’re not going to win games like that."

Londonderry took the lead early and held off Merrimack throughout the first quarter to go up 13-11 after one. The Lancers opened the second with an 8-2 run to take their largest lead of the night, 21-13, with 5:48 left before halftime.

The Tomahawks switched to the triangle defense after that and were able to cut the lead down to three going into the break.

"We were down about seven or eight and we were coming off curls and they were going right to the hoop," Goodridge said. "We weren’t stepping in. They were quicker than we were and we had to figure something out. We were lucky that (the defensive switch) worked for us."

Merrimack went on a 12-2 run to open the second half, going up 38-31 on a putback by Ian Cummings.

Londonderry kept it close in the fourth quarter, making it a one-possession game twice in the final two minutes, but each time, Roberts converted a three-point play to put the Tomahawks up a couple of scores.