The Aces concluded the regular season with a stunning 52-27 win against league rival Ridley on Senior Night in the Main Gym. In front of a huge home crowd energized by a pregame ceremony honoring '07s Eric Barefield and Adam Ellison and last year's championship team, the Maroon & White dismantled the Green Raiders in historic fashion. The 27 points allowed by Lower Merion (18-6, 13-5 CL) was the lowest total by an opponent this season and the lowest output by Ridley (18-6, 14-4 CL) in more than five years. The Aces also earned the honor of becoming the best defensive team in the regular season during the Downer era based on total points allowed per contest. The 06-07 Aces have allowed 46.5 points per game, compared to a previous best of 46.8 per game last season.
After a tight first quarter that saw four lead changes, the Aces began to take control in the second quarter. Up 17-16 with just four minutes to play in the half, the Aces went on a 7-2 run highlighted by a Greg Robbins drive, a Steve Meehan three-pointer and an Eric Stahler driving layup at the buzzer to close the frame. The Aces caught fire after halftime, exploding to an 18-5 third quarter margin and outscoring the Green Raiders 10-4 in the fourth. Throughout the contest, the Aces displayed relentless defensive intensity and stamina despite a bench shortened by the absence of Kevin Escott and Carl Johnson.
Robbins once again led the Aces in points (15) and rebounds (10). Meehan connected on three treys and finished with 11 points. Eric Barefield (8 points, 8 assists), Eric Stahler (8 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists), Adam Ellison (5 points, 7 rebounds) and Harley Williamson (5 points) rounded out the scoring.
Senior Night was particularly sweet for the members of this year's graduating class. Ellison, a three-year varsity member and the only current Aces player to be on the roster for back-to-back State Finals appearances, helped limit Ridley's talented big man Dan Robinson to just four points and nailed the first three-pointer of his career. Barefield, a two-year varsity member, continued to display his talents on both ends of the floor, teaming with Eric Stahler to limit Ridley star Steve Egee to just 9 points, distributing a team-high eight assists and getting to the basket at will in the Aces' spread offense.
No Ridley starter reached double-figures for the game - the Green Raiders reach failed to reach double-figures in points scored in any quarter and totaled just nine points in the 2nd half. The defensive effort recalled the Aces' 70-31 thumping of Springfield earlier in the season. The difference this time around -- significant and immediate playoff implications. With the win, the Aces gained an important edge in the seeding for District playoffs, possibly collecting enough rankings points to earn a top eight seed. While the seeding will not be set until statistical rankings are completed Tuesday, a top eight finish would enable the Aces to qualify for two home playoff games. At the very least, the Aces will open the playoffs at home next Friday night. Time and opponent TBD.
Prior to the game, Aces Nation welcomed the return of last year's seniors Ryan Brooks, Jon Gray, Peter Lucas, Ernest Moore, Arian Thompson and Garrett Williamson for the unveiling of the 2006 State Championship team portrait. The 4' x 7 portrait, designed by pro-sports signage company Berry & Homer, now hangs high above the gym floor (near Kobe Bryant's retired jersey) as a lasting tribute to a magical title run.