HAMPTON — It was a razor-thin margin that separated the Londonderry High and Winnacunnet of Hampton boys’ basketball teams Monday night.
Londonderry prevailed 64-63 when junior Joe Kwiatkowski hit a free throw with 4.7 seconds to play, and Winnacunnet guard Rich Ruffin missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“It was a one-possession game and there were some mistakes that cost us,” Winnacunnet coach Jay McKenna said. “They have a lot of guys who are all interchangeable. They can all handle it. They can all shoot it — and they did.”
Winnacunnet appeared to be in control when it was holding for the last shot in a 63-63 game, but the Warriors failed to inbound the ball in time following a timeout. Following the turnover, Kwiatkowski drew a foul and made the second of his two free throws, which ended up being the difference.
“It was the defense at the end,” Londonderry coach Nate Stanton said. “The five-second call and then the stop at the end — that’s a high-scoring team.”
Londonderry’s Marc Corey, a 6-foot-4 junior forward, led all scorers with 23 points. He made one of two free throws to make it a 63-63 game with just under a minute remaining. The Lancers received 12 points from Caleb Green and 10 from Cody Ball.
“I’m sure he (Corey) wasn’t on the scouting report,” Stanton said. “With our team anybody can step up on any night. We need to play unselfish because we have multiple guys who can put in points.”
Winnacunnet received 18 points from Ruffin, a senior guard, and 15 from senior guard Sam Knollmeyer.
Winnacunnet led 14-13 after one quarter, but Londonderry had a 29-24 lead at halftime. The Lancers held their largest lead when Green made a 3-pointer that made it a 40-30 game with 2:55 left in the third, but Winnacunnet was within two, 46-44, entering the fourth.
The victory raised Londonderry’s Division I record to 2-0. The Lancers made 10 3-pointers in an opening-night victory over Manchester Memorial, and made nine more against Winnacunnet.
The loss dropped Winnacunnet’s record to 1-1. The Warriors opened their season with a 69-37 win over Keene. “There were a few little things we need to work on,” McKenna said. “Little things can cost you a game.”