By Danny Kane
After beating rival Upper Darby to guarantee a spot in the PIAA state tournament, many people thought the Lower Merion Aces would suffer a letdown in the District Quarterfinals.
That didn’t happen.
The Aces scratched, clawed and played with incredible intensity against a formidable opponent, but in the end, LM couldn't overcome Ryan Arcidiacono and the Neshaminy Redskins, falling 64-61. The Aces' balanced attack -- four players reached double figures and eight players scored in total -- was aggressive, productive and at times unstoppable. But Arcidiacono showed why he is a Top 50 player nationally, leading all scorers with 33 points -- including 17 of 20 from the free throw line.
The game got off to a back-and-forth start, with Neshaminy taking an early 6-0 lead before the Aces rallied to get within one point at the end of the first quarter. The 2nd quarter was also a see-saw, though a mid-quarter Neshaminy rally pushed the Redskins to an eight point lead. BJ Johnson's late three cut the margin to five (30-25) at halftime.
The Aces had a huge 3rd quarter, keyed by Darryl Reynolds’ stifling defense, and would’ve held a 42-39 lead at the end of the quarter had Arcidiacono not hit a buzzer beating three to knot the game. A back and forth 4th quarter eventually ended in a 64-61 win for the Redskins, allowing them to advance to play Chester team in the district semi-finals.
Lower Merion will now face Bensalem in a huge consolation game, which will greatly impact seeding for the State Tournament. The Aces opened their season against Bensalem with a 38-37 loss. That game was played without Raheem Hall and Mike Robbins. Both teams have greatly improved since December.
The game will be played this Tuesday at 7 at Armstrong Middle School in Bensalem.