Any talk about the Aces' relative youth had been thrown out the window before Tuesday night's match-up with Plymouth Whitemarsh. The team had battled valiantly through the first three rounds of the District playoffs, knocking off more experienced foes by playing disciplined, no-regrets basketball characteristic of veteran clubs. Unfortunately, they couldn't keep it rolling against a senior-laden team looking for redemption after three consecutive Final Four losses. In a choppy game marked by foul trouble, erratic play and uneven tempo, the Aces failed to get over the hump, falling 61-53 to the Colonials at Villanova.
Eric Barefield and Greg Robbins scored 13 points each to lead the Aces. Carl Johnson (10 points), Eric Stahler (7 points), Steve Meehan (6 points) and Adam Ellison (4 points) rounded out the scoring.
The opening frame proved the difference in the game as the Colonials built a 19-7 margin in the quarter. PW, usually known for their inside strength, drained an uncharacteristic five treys in the first eight minutes. The Aces used an 11-0 run to battle back in the 2nd quarter and had the ball down two with just over a minute to play in the half, but a series of miscues soured a promising rally. The Aces missed two consecutive lay-ups and PW converted on the other end to go up by 29-25. With a chance to cut the margin back to two, the Aces turned the ball over with seconds to play before the half. Also during the stretch, LM's leading scorer Greg Robbins picked up a critical 3rd foul.
In the third, the Colonials extended their lead to ten and pushed the margin to 13 at the start of the 4th. The Aces stormed back midway through the final frame on an and-one layup by Barefield and consecutive steals by Stahler and Robbins. Down five and in possession of the ball with four minutes to play, the Aces had a chance to cut the lead further. Unfortunately, several shots missed the mark and the Aces couldn’t secure first rebounds on misses by PW in three consecutive possessions.
Several bright spots on the night: the Aces shot 16-18 from the free throw line - and senior Adam Ellison helped limit the Colonials' 6'8 center Greg Maugle to just 3 points, eight below his season average. Unfortunately, the overall team effort was too inconsistent to produce a victory.
Next up for the Aces is the 3rd place consolation game v. Souderton on Saturday afternoon (time/location TBD). The game will determine the Aces' seed for the state playoffs which begin next week.