Seven minutes into the second quarter, the Aces had done the unthinkable. LM was holding high-flying Plymouth-Whitemarsh scoreless in the frame and led 19-8, rendering a massive, hostile home crowd mute. They had controlled tempo, silenced the crowd, and looked every bit the part of an upstart District title contender.
With less than 30 seconds on the clock, it appeared the Aces would cap their best half of the season with the kind of play that had defined their surprising surge. A Colonials player drove the paint and lofted a wild runner as Jule Brown ‘15 stepped across the lane, planted his feet and braced for a charge. The ball went through the hoop, Brown took the contact, a whistle sounded and the entire gym looked to the official for the call. For the first time all night, it seemed, things didn’t go the Aces way. Count the bucket and the foul. An 11-point lead became eight and LM’s momentum was halted heading into the locker room.
Still, LM had held PW to its lowest point production in a half all season. The formula was working. The question, of course, was for how long? Against one of the District’s hottest teams in their home gym, a second-half run had to be expected. And it came with a fury.
LM led 25-18 at the four-minute mark of the third before the Colonials reeled off a 25-3 blizzard over the next eight minutes to seize control of the game. LM simply could not contend with PW’s length and athleticism, which forced 16 second-half turnovers. By the time the Aces regained their footing, PW had built a double-digit margin and had all but punched their ticket to the District Final Four.
To be fair, the Aces’ guards were forced to carry a heavy load against the Colonials’ heat and simply wore down after a brilliant first half. Steve Pendleton ’15, in particular, played some of his finest basketball of the season. The 6’1 guard repeatedly found his way to the rim and finished with a game-high 15 points. Corey Sherman ’15 added nine points, including two treys.
LM played hard and well for stretches, but advancing at this time of year requires a full 32 minutes of quality play. On Friday, 20 great minutes were not enough.
Fortunately, there are games yet to be played and an opportunity to improve before the state playoffs begin. LM’s first playback game is an intriguing matchup against Conestoga (date/time to be determined). The Pioneers fell to Ridley earlier in another quarterfinals game.