Tomahawks senior reaches career plateau

MERRIMACK – Needing just one point to become the eighth Merrimack High School member of the 1,000-point club, Ian Cummings let visiting Salem know early just exactly to whom this night belonged.

Even if he had no idea.

Cummings swished a three from the top-left with his first shot of the night, helping Merrimack to a 15-0 lead and the Tomahawks successfully repelled every Salem challenge in a 47-45 win.

“I really had no idea about the 1,000 points,” said Cummings, who had 11 in the 15-0 run, scored 22 on the night and now has 1,021 on his Merrimack career with just under half a season to play.

“It was great. I had my family come out and support me. They didn’t tell me they were coming. To be one of only eight guys is truly an honor. But more important, we had to get that win.”

Merrimack, still in recovery mode from the loss of potential all-state Owen Ploss (torn ACL), moves to 6-6 on the year, while Salem falls to 7-5.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for Ian,” said Merrimack coach Tim Goodridge. “He’s in really unbelievable company. We’ve had some tremendous players here. He’s in elite company right now.”

Cummings finished the special night with 11 rebounds and a couple of huge blocks late.

But the victory doesn’t come for Merrimack without the help of some budding, young sophomores.

Salem, which trailed by as many as 15, had fought and scrapped with easy possession on defense to crawl back into it. And when the Blue Devils tied it at 45-45 with just under two minutes left, they really cranked up the heat.

Merrimack tried to hold for a last shot, but simply inbounding the ball was a chore.

Leave it to the unknowing sophomores, point guard Adam Ellis and big man Jared Dyer, to deliver the play of the night.

Ellis beat the defensive overplay and sliced to the hoop. He hooked a pass to Dyer, who swooped and scored the game-winner with seven seconds left. Salem had one more shot at it but Trevor Deminico’s 35-footer drew backboard and rim, before caroming out as the buzzer sounded.

“Dyer has been sick the last couple days, and at times, he wasn’t himself,” said Goodridge. “He just kept battling all night, and he took the big shot to put us over the top.”

Dyer finished the night with 10 points. Ellis ran the show, despite some foul trouble, and had a three of his own. Fellow sophomores Tim Eckert and Pat Yudkins also delivered quality minutes as Goodridge searches for ways to fill the void.

“We have a long way to go if we are going to contend,” said the coach, whose club hosts 10-2 Winnacunnet here on Friday night.