A night after suffering their worst defeat in three seasons, the Aces produced the kind of performance that has come to define the Gregg Downer era. Backs to the corner, and without the services of three injured players, the Maroon & White pulled out a gritty, disciplined, defensive-oriented 59-47 victory against Penn Wood. In so doing, they helped their coach reach an historic career milestone in classic fashion -- victory number 300.
Downer becomes the second coach in Lower Merion history to reach the 300-win plateau, and stands just 46 wins behind LM's all-time winningest coach, the legendary Bill Anderson. In 16+ seasons, Downer has averaged close to 20 victories per year, building a program that is widely considered to be among the finest in Pennsylvania. In the past ten years alone, Downer's Aces have made three state finals appearances, winning two ('96, '06) - and have won seven league titles. Numerous players have taken their games to the next level, most notably Kobe Bryant '96 (LA Lakers), and most recently Ryan Brooks '06 (Temple) and Garrett Williamson '06 (St. Joe's).
Downer, who was doused with a cooler of ice in the locker room, thanked "all the players, coaches, friends, alums and family who made this possible. I'm just fortunate to have so many quality people around who are part of the Aces family."
The Aces, playing Penn Wood at home in the nightcap of the Scholastic Play-by-Play Main Line Classic, jumped out to a 12-8 first quarter lead and held a winning margin throughout. Senior Eric Barefield paced a balanced attack with 15 points and a career-high nine assists. Also contributing to the scoring column were sophomore Eric Stahler (13 points, 3-4 FT), junior Carl Johnson (13 points, four assists, three steals), junior Kevin Escott (8 points, eight rebounds, two blocks), junior Steve Meehan (6 points, two treys) and senior Adam Ellison (4 points, 6 rebounds). Stahler limited Penn Wood's talented 6'6 swingman Torrence Timothy to a season-low nine points, while Johnson held high-flying point guard Jerald Bryant to 13 points, four below his season average.
The Aces shot 16-20 from the free throw line and nailed seven three-pointers in the game, a season high.
Now 4-2, Lower Merion returns to the floor Tuesday night at Haverford High. Gametime is 7:30 PM. Earlier this week, the much-improved Fords knocked off Upper Darby 66-63 in OT.