Strong start not enough to prevent Derryfield elimination

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Lin-Wood’s Cam Clermont guards Derryfield’s Thomas Ferdinando. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – When two teams enter a basketball court and only one of them can see its season continue, there’s usually a palpable energy in the air as both teams fight for survival. However, just because that energy is there doesn’t mean it will stay in the same form before the final buzzer sounds.

For two and a half quarters on Monday night, the Derryfield School boys’ basketball team seemed poised to defeat the visiting Lumberjacks of Lin-Wood only to see that tournament energy transform from flawless shooting into a foreboding frustration as the Cougars were eliminated from the NHIAA Division IV Boys’ Basketball Tournament, 82-69.

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Derryfield’s Janai Cruz guards Lin-Wood’s Cam Clermont. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

The two teams combined to hit the game’s first five shots in a row, and the two teams continued to trade baskets as the Cougars entered the second quarter with an 18-16 lead. Then Derryfield exploded for eight three-pointers before the half to build a ten-point lead by the half, a lead that would been even larger if not for four three-pointers for the Lumberjacks in what was an 8-for-13 quarter from the field for the visitors.

After the half, Derryfield attempted to slow the tempo and sit on their lead only to see their torrid shooting dry up in the process. Lin-Wood would climb back to make the deficit only 59-53 by the end of the third quarter and then took their first lead of the game on a Jake Avery and-one play with 5:43 left in regulation.

Derryfield would wrest the lead back on yet another three-pointer, this one from freshman Thomas Fernando, but it would only last a few seconds. On the next time up the court, Lin-Wood junior Cam Clermont hit a three-point while falling to the floor, giving the Lumberjacks a lead they would not relinquish.

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Derryfield’s Janai Cruz sees a path to the basket, but Lin-Wood’s Jake Avery wants to get in the way. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

Lin-Wood Head Coach Matt Manning admitted that his squad looked disorganized early on, but he also knew that Derryfield’s pace was unsustainable and the Lumberjacks had a chance if they could avoid falling too far behind.

“They must have been shooting over 80 percent from beyond the three-point line in the first half and we knew that wasn’t going to continue, but we also knew that we really had to lock down on defense and make sure we were challenging every shot,” he said. “We just hung in there and scratched back and clawed back and we did it.”

For Derryfield Head Coach Ed Meade, the main difference was size. He felt that his team continued to get good looks at the basket throughout the contest, but the Cougars’ cold streak eventually coincided with a clear disadvantage on the boards, with Lin-Wood out-rebounding Derryfield 10-1 in the final frame.

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Lin-Wood’s Cam Manning is pumped up. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

“We worked our offense in the second half like we did in the first half and I think we did get good shots, they just weren’t falling for us, even some layups and free throws,” he said. “So just like that, they took advantage of it inside and put the ball in the hoop and we didn’t have the size to stop them.”

Remarkably enough, Lin-Wood only had four players with any points, with Clermont (38) and Avery (35) account for all but six of them.

“I’d say they’re a top-three duo in the state,” said Manning. “When they’re on, they’re tough. We’ve been dealing with it all year, double teaming, boxing ones, triangles and twos, those kids just bite through it.”

In contrast, eight of Derryfield’s 12 players in the scorebook contributed at least one point. junior John McDevitt led the way with 18 points, with Fernando, a freshman, also adding 16 and senior Janai Cruz posting 11.

Each team ended with nine three-pointers, short of the Division IV record of 12 last set by Wilton in 2008.

Lin-Wood will now face second-ranked Concord Christian on Thursday night after Concord Christian defeated Pittsburg-Canaan earlier in the evening, 67-31.

Derryfield finishes its season 12-7 including Monday’s loss.

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There were plenty of plaid-clad Lumberjack fans that made the trip down from Lincoln and Woodstock. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.