Thursday night's match-up between the Aces and Green Raiders was pretty much par for the course. One point game. Down to the wire. Hard-nosed defense. Standard stuff for arguably the Central League's best rivalry. Unfortunately for Aces fans, however, Ridley notched its first win over the Maroon & White since the 04-05 season, holding on for a 42-41 victory. Steve Meehan led the Aces in scoring for the second straight game, burying three treys en route to 11 points. Backcourt mates Eric Barefield (10 points) and Carl Johnson (10 points) also reached double digits. The duo shined on the defensive end, combining to hold Green Raiders star Steve Egee to just six points, his lowest output of the season. The Aces held Ridley's #2 scorer, the 6'7" Dan Robinson to his lowest season total as well, thanks to strong interior defense by Adam Ellison, Greg Robbins, Kevin Escott and Eric Stahler. Ridley's final point tally was the fewest scored by the Green Raiders this season.
Ridley's defense was equally impressive. The Aces scored just 41 points, fewest since a 39-point effort against Haverford back on December 19. Not coincidentally, that was the Aces' last loss. The team had been on a six-game winning streak until Thursday night.
Still, Lower Merion had its chances. Trailing by five at the break and a handful of points most of the game, the Aces narrowed the gap to the final, one-point margin late in the fourth on threes by Stahler and Meehan and an acrobatic steal and driving layup by Johnson. After a foul that sent a Ridley player to the line for a missed one-and-one opportunity, the Aces collected the rebound and had 29 seconds to find the winning bucket. The Ridley defense held and the Green Raiders sealed the game with last-second rebound.
The road doesn't get any easier for the Maroon & White. Next up is league leader Springfield on Saturday night. Gametime has been moved to 6 PM in advance of the Eagles/Saints playoff game. The Cougars remain the only undefeated Central League squad.