They just might be on to something.
In a season filled with growing pains, the Aces may have turned a corner on Friday night with their convincing 67-44 thumping of Conestoga. The victory was the most complete of the 2010-11 campaign to date, and it capped an important series sweep against the rival Pioneers.
The Aces have now won four of their last five games and have done so in a variety of ways. Tonight, the Aces took charge from the start and added to their lead in every quarter. They did it with frenetic defense, a deft transition game and an aggressive, attack-first mentality that will no doubt have Aces fans hungry for more. They scored on the break and built their lead with effective half-court offense. Zone, man, press whatever the Pioneers threw at them, the Aces countered with aplomb.
The sequence that defined the game came early in the 4th quarter when senior Darius Hall, after collecting his seventh steal of the night, exploded past a defender at the top of the key and dished to Darryl Reynolds 11 for a thunderous dunk in traffic. Reynolds rose above two Conestoga defenders and was fouled on the play, but he found a way to finish the jam with serious gusto. For an Aces team that has come up just short several times this season, there was no mistaking the message provided by Reynolds and his teammates. As the regular season comes down the home stretch, its all about a strong finish.
Mike Buchwald 11 had his finest game of the season, scoring a team-high 19 points, including a perfect 5-5 from the free throw line. Buchwald converted three steals into layups and also drilled two threes.
Mike Robbins 12 put together his most impressive performance as well, and he did it on both sides of the ball. The wiry junior scored 15 points, including six during the Aces commanding first-quarter surge. He also had one of the highlights of the game an acrobatic lay-up on the break after he had been undercut by a Stoga defender.
It was a team effort to be sure. Hall had 11 points to go along with his seven steals. Eric Green 11 rumbled to the hoop for eight points and collected a team-high 11 rebounds. Darryl Reynolds 12 (7 points, 4 blocks) Luke Chambers 11 (3 points) and Raheem Hall 13 (4 points) rounded out the scoring. Seniors Matt McKenna and Mark Krantz once again played outstanding perimeter defense. BJ Johnson 13, Mike Capkin 11, Dan Peterson 11, CJ Jones 11, Justin McFadden 14 and Yohanny Dalembert 13 also contributed.
With the win, the Aces move to 9-3 in league play (10-7) overall. The Pioneers fall to 6-5 in the league (9-8 overall). It was the most lopsided loss of the season for Conestoga. Up next for Lower Merion is a match-up at home against Springfield on Tuesday, February 1.
Box Score: Lower Merion 22 13 13 19 67 Conestoga 14 12 12 6 44