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March 16. 2014 10:28PM

Londonderry Coach Fagula, Simpson go out in style

Londonderry coach John Fagula hugs Brittany Roche after defeating Bedford in the Div. I NHIAA Girls Basketball Championship game vs. Bedford at Southern New Hampshire University Sunday. Londonderry won 57-56. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER — Moments after Londonderry's 57-56 championship win against Bedford, Lancers head coach John Fagula (627-104, 12 titles, 32 seasons) and senior guard Aliza Simpson embraced in front of their bench.

The one-point victory allowed both to ride off into the sunset with a memorable state championship.

Before the game, Fagula said he chatted with Simpson, who will be playing for the University of New Hampshire this fall.

"I told her you just won the Gatorade, Division I Player of the Year and Miss New Hampshire awards," said Fagula. "Now let's go out in style and get that grand slam."

Awards are nice, but Simpson said she had only one thought in mind when the game started. "Just win this one for coach," she said. "He's a great coach, but a better person who made a difference in my life."

Simpson, who finished with 16 points, said she was playing in pain after returning from her eight-game absence during the regular season.

"You have to play through it," she said. "Today I didn't real feel too bad because the adrenalin was flowing from me the entire game. I couldn't ask for a better way to leave Londonderry — as a state champion. My teammates were all great and we worked hard for this."

Fagula, as he did last Thursday, wore his championship ring from the 1986-87 season when his Nashua team was named the No.1 girls' basketball team in the country by USA Today.

"My very first championship in 1982 was special. I took over a Nashua team that won just one game in each of the previous three years and we won that title in my second season there as coach," said Fagula.

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