When a high school basketball team plays at Temple's Liacouras Center, it's a rare and special opportunity. Bright lights, big crowds, a sparkling Division 1 floor -- and most importantly, a chance to earn a trip to the District Finals. After a full regular season and two grueling weeks of the District 1 tournament, 32 teams become two during one high stakes night of playoff basketball. For a team to get there once in a generation is a great accomplishment. To do it two years in a row in the state's toughest district is something to tell the grandkids. And to win two years in a row - well, that's almost unheard of.
Wherever these Aces go, whatever heights they reach - what they accomplished Tuesday is not to be taken for granted. In their 61-35 thumping of Great Valley, the Aces did something that only one other team in the modern era of Lower Merion basketball has accomplished -- and that "other" team was led by a guy named Kobe Bryant. Aces fans, this is historic stuff -- savor it.
Savor an LM defense that allowed 11 total points in the first half to a team that entered the game 25-1. Great Valley was no pushover -- this was the #3 seed in the District.
Savor new players stepping up on the biggest stage. Sophomore Corey Sherman lit up the arena, scoring ten points in a torrid second quarter that effectively ended the Patriots' night.
Savor Yohanny Dalembert's continued improvement -- from a freshman who had never played basketball, to an imposing post player who punctuated his 16-point, 8-rebound, 5-block performance with two emphatic dunks in traffic.
Savor the Dawg Pound screaming "We can't hear you!" to the Great Valley fans.
Savor JaQuan Johnson's 12-point, third-quarter outburst, with all his twists, turns and did-he-really-do-that wizardry in weaving to the rim.
Savor winning by 26 points on a night when the team's two highest scorers - BJ Johnson and Raheem Hall -- were able to defer to their teammates for help. At one point, the Aces scored twelve consecutive baskets all on assists.
Savor Justin McFadden taking charges. Savor Gregg Downer playing maestro with colored construction paper and hand signals. Savor the bench high-fiving, calling out screens and representing the jersey with energy, enthusiasm and passion.
Savor a community coming together from all walks of life, interests and backgrounds to enjoy an awesome night of Aces Basketball.
Someday we'll look back and be able to provide some historical context. For now, let's at least take a moment to appreciate what we've got.
And just like that, it's on to the next one.
The Aces will take on Chester in the 2013 PIAA District 1 Final this Friday night at Villanova University. Tip-off time is 9 PM. Ticket information and a full preview will be posted on aceshoops.com and via the Aces Basketball Facebook page.
LM 16 13 16 16 - 61
GV 7 4 11 13 - 35Sherman 10, McFadden 5, J. Johnson 14, BJ Johnson 8, Hall, 6, Dalembert 16, Cotler 2