Merrimack hoops, hockey fall in tourneys

The Londonderry High School boys basketball team was unstoppable during the regular season, finishing with an 18-0 record and an 18-point margin of victory. However, Merrimack proved to be a thorn in the Lancers’ side, as the Tomahawks fell by a combined nine points in their pair of losses.

Merrimack had one last chance to upset the powerhouse on Saturday evening, and the underdogs fell just shy of prevailing.

Merrimack held a nine-point lead in the second half, but Londonderry stormed back to win the Division I quarterfinals match, 49-44.

The top-seeded Lancers now advance to the semifinals at UNH on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the No. 9 Tomahawks’ chance at consecutive appearances in the finals came to a close.

Merrimack looked like the better team for much of the first half. While the Lancers struggled shooting the ball, the Tomahawks couldn’t miss. Six different Tomahawks scored in the first quarter to give their team a 13-6 lead.

The Lancers began to show some life in the second quarter. They managed to cut Merrimack’s lead to three following a Marc Corey 3-pointer toward the end of the frame, but Merrimack answered back. Austin Franzen’s last-second shot hit off the rim, but the senior grabbed his own rebound and sank the subsequent floater, giving his team a five-point lead heading into the half.

The Tomahawks improved their lead to nine early in the third quarter, but the Lancers’ full-court press soon got to the underdog.

Sparked by some aggressive defense, Londonderry answered back with a 16-6 run to take a one-point lead heading into the fourth.

The Lancers extended that lead to six early in the final quarter, but buckets by Franzen and Andrew Wojciak cut that deficit back to one. That would be the closest Merrimack would get, as the Lancers were sent to the bonus with more than two minutes remaining.

The Lancers took advantage at the free throw line, and Merrimack’s inability to make a bucket ultimately ruined the upset opportunity.

Ian Roberts finished with a game-high 18 points for Merrimack. Franzen and Wojciak each added eight in the loss.

On the other side, Marc Corey led the way with 17 points. Cody Ball chipped in 15 points for Londonderry.

PRELIMINARY ROUND:

Merrimack 53, Alvirne 41

Ian Roberts was a force down low and Austin Franzen ran the offense effectively to help guide ninth-seeded Merrimack to a 53-41 victory over eighth-seeded Alvirne in the first round of the Division I boys basketball tournament Wednesday night.

The Tomahawks (10-9) opened strong, grabbing a 17-5 lead after one quarter, but the Broncos (9-10) worked their way back into the game by halftime and put pressure on Merrimack throughout the second half.

“Alvirne’s no pushover,” Merrimack coach Tim Goodridge said. “We had that 12-point lead and Alvirne battled its way back in.

“I thought our kids played well, and we played really good team defense.”

Goodridge’s Tomahawks, who were led offensively by Roberts’ 22 points and Franzen’s 10, will now visit top-seeded Londonderry (19-0) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the quarterfinals.