The Aces exploded on an 11-2 run to open the game and never looked back in a 63-39 District 1 Quarterfinals romp over Pennridge on Friday night. With the victory, the Aces earn a trip back to Temple University for the District 1 Semifinals after a one-year hiatus.
Steve Payne ’19 led the way with 21 points and eight rebounds and the Aces’ swarming defense kept the Rams in check. It was a convincing performance against a Pennridge squad that had lost just once in the past month. LM dominated from start to finish, extending a 28-14 halftime lead to as many as 28 points in the final quarter.
Jack Forrest ’19 (19 points, 5 rebounds) and Harrison Klevan ’18 (13 points, 3 treys) also reached double figures, and LM received important contributions – particularly on the defensive end – from almost every player who took the floor.
The Aces drilled ten threes on the contest and prevented Pennridge from finding any kind of rhythm. LM held the Rams to their second-lowest point tally of the season and limited star guard Sean Yoder to just three points on a second-half three.
During one second-half sequence, the Aces’ press generated turnovers in the backcourt on three straight Rams possessions, leading to baskets and free-throws and forcing Pennridge to burn a quick timeout. LM outscored the Rams in every quarter and played with an unwavering energy and tempo that lasted until the final buzzer, much to the delight of a spirited Dawg Pound that had Bryant Gymnasium rocking.
A late Forrest dunk and a dazzling behind the back pass from Payne to Klevan punctuated the win and ignited a celebration that continued into the post-game locker room. In a season of adversity, the resilient Aces had punched their ticket to the Final Four.
The Aces must now quickly turn their attention to a matchup with Abington, the defending District 1 champs and one of the state’s top-ranked and most talented teams. Tipoff is Tuesday at 6PM at Temple’s Liacouras Center.