Matt McKenna '11 led the Aces with 14 points and 7 assists on Wednesday
Despite clutch play down the stretch, the Aces dropped a 57-54 overtime heartbreaker to Atlantic City on Wednesday at the Jameer Nelson Classic at Gwynedd Mercy College. For the second straight game, a short-handed Aces team battled a top-rated opponent to the finish, coming up just short. Close losses sting, but the silver lining may be the recent experience gained by a number of new faces on this year's roster. As the season progresses, the team may look back on these games as an important time of growth.
Matt McKenna '11 led the Aces with 14 points, including a game-tying three-pointer with 27 seconds left in overtime. McKenna played every minute of the game and handled Atlantic City's vaunted high-pressure defense, dishing out a team-high 7 assists. Oliver Cohen '10 contributed 13 points, including four from beyond the arc. Aaron Staley '11 (10 points), Mike Buchwald '11 (8 points), Mike Robbins '12 (7 points) and David Ancona-Cole '11 (2 points) rounded out the scoring. Buchwald hit two clutch free-throws in the closing seconds of regulation to force overtime. Cohen earned All-Classic honors, scoring 24 points and nailing six treys over two games.
The Aces enjoyed a fast start to the game, jumping to a double-digit lead in the first half and holding the Vikings to just 15 points through two quarters. Atlantic City -- one of South Jersey's top-ranked teams -- recovered from a sluggish start and made a run in the third quarter to tie the score at 35-35 heading into the fourth frame. The final quarter was a see-saw battle, with neither team able to gain control. Staley provided a highlight reel moment mid-way through the period with a dramatic put-back dunk in transition.
The Vikings took a two-point lead on a layup with 17 seconds to play in regulation, but Buchwald was fouled on the ensuing possession and drained both free throws to force an extra period. In overtime, the Aces battled back from a four-point deficit on a free-throw and three-ball by McKenna. With 7.5 seconds to play, however, the Vikings converted a three-point play. The Aces got the ball back with one final chance to tie, but a desperation three-point attempt by JJ Hoffstein '10 just missed the mark.
The Aces attempted a season-high 14 free throws, connecting on ten attempts. For the second straight game, the Aces drained eight three-pointers.
LM returns to Central League action on Saturday night at home against Conestoga, as part of a girls/boys double-header. Tip-off for the girls game is 6 PM. The boys game begins at 7:30 PM.