It was a heck of a ride. In a year considered by many to be a "rebuilding" campaign, a young and fearless Aces squad achieved the standard that has come to define Lower Merion basketball: a gutsy playoff push into late March. On Saturday, the Aces battled till the final buzzer before falling 61-58 to District 12 champs Simon Gratz in the PA State Quarterfinals. Trailing by eight with five minutes to play, the Aces pulled even in the closing minutes and nearly rallied for another dramatic victory. But the comeback ended just short, and the veteran Bulldogs escaped with the win. The Aces finish the 2007 campaign with a gaudy 24-8 record, including six playoff victories. They ended the season as one of the final eight teams in the state, a remarkable accomplishment for a squad that lost six seniors and four starters from a year ago. And they emerged once again as the class of the Central League, crushing regular season champ Upper Darby in district play and becoming the last league team standing in the AAAA playoffs. During the regular season, the Aces knocked off Chester, McCaskey and Communications Tech, crushed Springfield 70-31 and Ridley 61-25 and allowed the fewest points per game of any team in the Downer era. By any account, the future appears bright with as many as 14 players returning to the roster next season. The Aces' two graduating seniors, Eric Barefield and Adam Ellison, will be sorely missed. Barefield emerged as one of the top point guards in the area this season, leading the Aces in assists and steals. During the final month of the season, he boasted an assist/turnover ratio of better than 2:1 and drew some of the toughest defensive assignments. Ellison finishes his three-year varsity career tied with Kobe Bryant as the all-time winningest player in Aces history - the Aces are 77-22 during the "Ellison Era." His first starting assignment came as a sophomore in the 2nd Round of the 2005 State Playoffs in the buzzer-beater win against Central Dauphin. He had a game-winning buzzer-beater of his own to defeat Chester earlier this year at Widener University. Special kudos to the Dawg Pound and all of Aces Nation for their incredible support this season. The crowds were huge, loud and traveled everywhere, from the season-opening tip-off tournament to Saturday afternoon in Norristown. More coverage of the Gratz game and the 2006-07 season will be posted in the coming days, including video links, photos and ordering information for the 06-07 highlight video.