The Aces continued their defense of their Central League title with a 79-51 romp over the Strath Haven Panthers at Bryant Gymnasium. Eleven Aces entered the scoring column, as JaQuan Johnson ’14 tallied a career high 19 points.
The much improved Panthers jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, as the Aces started sluggishly. Strath Haven gamely ran the floor with Lower Merion, content to launch outside shots without challenging the taller Aces under the basket, as the first quarter ended with the Panthers trailing by only 23-16.
Relying on Raheem Hall ’13 slashing to the hole offensively, the Aces clamped down their defense in the second quarter, stretching their advantage by forcing turnovers with their pressure defense. Yohanny Dalembert ’13 was able to establish his massive presence in the low post, and his 9 first half points were a perfect complement to Hall’s creative attacks at the basket. JaQuan Johnson’s explosive bursts to the hole presented a problem that the Panthers were unable to solve. Corey Sherman ’15 smartly followed his missed three-point attempt, grabbing the rebound and burying a 2 over the Haven defenders. Halftime arrived with the Aces leading 49-25, and the final outcome was virtually assured.
The Aces have many tools in their shed, and they drew on these resources throughout the game. Jule Brown ’15 knocked down his first career three-point shot, and BJ Johnson ’13 demanded much defensive attention from the Panthers. Emery Shiffraw ’13 tossed in a smooth jumper that elated the Dawg Pound. Many of the Aces reserves saw meaningful minutes in the second half, and Doug Cotler ’13 made his presence felt, blocking a shot, grabbing rebounds, and scoring 4 points. Steve Pendleton '15 registered his first varsity points with a twisting layup and Justin McFadden '14 played his usual, rugged brand of defense.
In addition to JaQuan Johnson’s 19 points, he was matched by Raheem Hall’s 19, and Yohanny Dalembert tossed in 10. BJ Johnson and Jule Brown had 7 each, and Corey Sherman finished with 5. Baird Howland ’13 and Bryan Shapiro ’13 each had 2. Rasool Smith ’13 demonstrated his usual hustle in his fourth quarter shift.
Prior to the game, Bryant Gymnasium observed an emotional moment of silence in memory of the victims of the senseless violence in Newtown, Connecticut. The Lower Merion community extends its deepest sympathies to the families who are suffering from unspeakable losses today.
The Aces next game is Tuesday night, as Lower Merion welcomes the Penncrest Lions to Bryant Gymnasium. Game time is 7pm.