Aces oust Upper Darby 71-65 in OT thriller

Back to News List | Posted on Jan 23rd, 2009
Greg Robbins '09 exploded for 37 points in the Aces' win against Upper Darby
By Steve Mandelbaum

As they say in the movies, revenge is sweet. And it’s even sweeter when marked by a comeback of epic proportions. Down by 12 with a little over five minutes left in the game, the Aces seemed finished. With only 3:16 left, trailing by 10, the Aces appeared to have no chance. Facing a 3-point deficit with five seconds on the clock and having to go the full length of the court, Lower Merion needed an absolute miracle to escape the jaws of defeat.

And just like in the movies, a miracle is what they got.

After a mad scramble up court, senior Harley Williamson collected the ball at the top of the key. With a hand in his face, Williamson launched a high-arching shot that tickled the twine as time expired, sending the Dawg Pound into mass hysteria and the Maroon & White into overtime. The shot, which knotted the game at 58-58, marked the first time since the first quarter that the Aces had pulled even with the Royals.

The overtime period was all Aces. Upper Darby gained possession on the tip-off, but a quick steal by junior Oliver Cohen led to a three-pointer by junior Alon Seltzer, giving the Aces a margin they would not relinquish. Senior Greg Robbins, as he had done the entire night, drained shot after shot and sealed the game with free-throws down the stretch. In a game where the Aces struggled mightily to find their shot, it was Robbins who kept the team within striking distance – carrying the load in Herculean fashion. The senior finished with a career high 37 points to go along with 14 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.

The Dawg Pound’s chants of “it’s all over” serenaded the Maroon & White as the final seconds ticked off of the clock. It was an impressive win, and an extraordinary display of tenacity, character, and maturity by the Lower Merion players.

Lower Merion did not have the lead until the overtime period. They were always seemingly within reach in regulation, but any momentum seemed to end when they had the chance to tie the game or pull ahead. But big players step up in big games at the most important times. Robbins’ 37 points were the most by a Lower Merion player since Kobe Bryant graced the Aces’ court. Following the game, Coach Gregg Downer described his Richmond-bound senior as “a man-child.”

Perhaps the most awe-inspiring display of physical dominance in Robbins’ career came in the second quarter, when he split two defenders on the perimeter, rose high above the lane and threw down a vicious one-handed slam that hit the floor and ricocheted like a bullet off the back wall of the gym. The play brought the fans of both teams to their feet, and sent shockwaves through the building. But it was not the flashy plays which made Robbins’ game so memorable; instead, it was his ability to bear down and simply dominate the game by finding his way to the rim, converting on stop-and-pop mid-range jumpers, and making threes when the team was in dire need of something special.

Other important contributions came from senior Vince Weldon, who despite his 5’10” frame, collected five offensive rebounds and set the tone on the defensive end. Williamson, who coolly played the role of “hero” at the buzzer, scored 14 points and added another jaw-dropper to his reel of highlight plays. With 1:35 left in the fourth quarter, he helped punctuate the Aces’ frantic comeback with a massive, one-handed jam in traffic which narrowed the Royals’ lead to three. Seltzer and Cohen hit important shots late in the game to help fuel the victory. Sophomore Matt McKenna provided key minutes off the bench. The Aces also received contributions on the floor from juniors JJ Hoffstein, Conor Foote, Aaron Staley and Joe Moran and sophomore Darius Hall.

The win was the Aces’ seventh in a row and gave them sole possession of second place in the Central League. LM returns to the court on Friday night when they host Garnet Valley at Haverford College. Tip-off is at 7:30 PM.

Box Score:

Lower Merion:  8 11 18 21 13 – 71
Upper Darby:   13  9 20 16   7 – 65

LM: Greg Robbins 37, Harley Williamson 14, Alon Seltzer 11, Oliver Cohen 5, Vince Weldon 2, Matt McKenna 2.

UD: Montrail Talford 15, Chase Peterson 14, Tre Davis 12, Khayri West 12, Micah Peeler 6, George Vlahos 3, A.J. Murray 3.