By Brady McHale and Juan Samuel
The area's oldest high school rivalry added another entertaining chapter on Friday night, as LM pulled out a thrilling 63-56 overtime win against Radnor.
Whether it's on the hardwood or the gridiron, fans know to expect the unexpected when these two teams tangle. In November, an inspired, underdog Aces football team led by quarterback Conor Foote '10 captured the Radnor game to end a decade-long drought against the Red Raiders. On Friday night, an underdog Red Raiders team almost returned the favor. Foote and the Aces prevailed, however, much to the delight of the more than 300 frenzied LM fans who made their way down Lancaster Avenue for the game.
It's not as if the Aces knew they wouldn't be tested. Radnor entered Friday night's contest with a solid 7-5 record, a 5-1 home record and a win against Upper Darby in their most recent outing. The Red Raiders feature one of the Central League's top talents in senior guard Kyle Hammonds. And in the first half, Hammonds and Radnor appeared they might have their way. The Red Raiders shot a blistering 80% from the floor through the first two quarters and carried a 30-24 lead into halftime.
If not for the efforts of Oliver Cohen '10, the Aces would have faced an even larger deficit. The senior captain drained three three-pointers in the first-half, finished the game with 15 points and a team-high 8 assists and was a steadying presence on both sides of the ball. Every time Radnor made a run, Cohen seemed to counter.
As has been the case through the much of the early going this season, when the Aces appear to be struggling, someone new seems to step up. On Friday night, when Cohen needed help, Mike Buchwald '11 had his turn. Buchwald '11 began heating up in the third quarter, knocking down a three-pointer and connecting on two driving layups and a putback off an offensive rebound as the Aces battled back to tie the game. Buchwald finished with a team-high and career-high 18 points on a night when his team needed a lift.
Mid-way though the fourth quarter, another Ace rose to the occasion as Darius Hall '11 (6 points) gave the Maroon & White their first lead of the game at 46-45 off a steal and breakaway layup. After a Radnor basket, Alon Seltzer '10 scored on a driving layup to knot the game at 48-48. The Red Raiders then went on a 5-0 run over the next two minutes that appeared to put the Aces on the ropes. A Seltzer steal and layup with 54 seconds narrowed the gap to 53-50. After a Radnor miss on the free-throw line, the Aces set up on the offensive end. With 17 seconds left to play, Buchwald drilled a huge three-pointer -- his third of the game -- to even the contest at 53-53. Radnor would have one more look at the basket in regulation, but the Aces defense -- led by Foote and David Ancona-Cole '10 -- held, forcing overtime.
In the extra frame, it was Seltzer's turn to take over. The senior guard knocked down a three pointer and went 5-6 from the free throw line to seal the final outcome, scoring 8 of his 12 points in overtime.
Also scoring for the Aces on Friday were Foote (6 points on two clutch three-pointers), Ancona-Cole (4 points) and Aaron Staley '10 (2 points). As a team, the Aces connected on 11 three-pointers.
Next up for the Aces is an intriguing match-up with District 3 powerhouse Red Land (11-1) on Sunday at 5:30 PM at Harrisburg High School as part of the Harrisburg Scholastic Play By Play Classic.
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LM: 15 9 19 10 10 - 63
R: 16 14 13 10 3 - 56