It's not a misprint. And complete domination is almost an understatement. What happened on Saturday night at Springfield was a blow-out of epic proportions and a display of defensive perfection that will be recounted in Aces Nation for a long time to come. That it came against Springfield -- a bitter rival and the Central League's only undefeated team -- in their own gym - well, that's downright crazy. (Or "not so crazy" for the Cougar faithful.)
The Aces did just about everything but end world hunger in a remarkable 70-31 victory that had "statement game" written all over it. Just two nights removed from a gut-wrenching one-point loss to Ridley, the Aces were determined to unload their frustration on the Cougars. They did so immediately and effectively, scoring the first seven points of the game and smothering Springfield with a ferocious, relentless defensive assault that limited one of District 1's best offenses to just seven first quarter points. By the time the first half was over, the Aces were up 31-12 and headed towards history. It was the fewest points scored by the Cougars in the past five seasons. And for the 8th consecutive game, the Aces limited an opponent to fewer than 50 points. It's a streak believed to be unprecedented in Gregg Downer's 17-year coaching career.
Junior Carl Johnson provided another outstanding individual effort against one of the league's top guards, holding U. of Maryland-Baltimore County signee Frank McKnight to seven points. (For the first time all season, no Springfield player reached double-digits.) The Aces' offense was clicking as well. Johnson led the team with 18 points, four assists and three steals. Also scoring were Eric Barefield (15 points, six rebounds, four assists), Greg Robbins (13 points, 13 rebounds), Eric Stahler (8 poins, four rebounds), Steve Meehan (6 points, 3 rebounds), Kevin Escott (3 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals), Oliver Cohen (3 points), Harley Williamson (2 points) and Alon Seltzer (2 points), who scored his first varsity points.
Now 11-4, the Aces turn their attention to Strath Haven. The Panthers, one of the Central League's most improved teams, visit the Main Gym on Tuesday night. Tip-off is 7:30 PM.
Additional notes....The last time Springfield scored in the 30's? A 71-36 loss to the Aces on January 18, 2005, a game with eerie parallels to Saturday night. Similar to this year's team, the 04-05 Aces squad had just come off a one-point heartbreaker to Ridley that effectively ended the team's Central League title hopes. That game was a signal of good things to come. Aces Nation can only hope that this win will bring similar tidings. To read the game recap in the Philadelphia Inquirer, click here.