It took the Aces a few minutes to get on the board Tuesday night, but once they did, the floodgates opened in a big way.
The same could not be said for Central Bucks East.
Behind a smothering defense, the Aces blanked the Patriots 17-0 in the first quarter and led 42-12 at halftime en route to a 77-43 romp in the opening round of the District 1 playoffs. Every player on the roster saw action; eleven entered the scoring column.
An and-one layup from Justin McFadden ?14 got the scoring started at the 5:02 mark of the first quarter. McFadden then hit a trey to prompt a Patriots timeout. Unanswered buckets by JaQuan Johnson ?14, Steve Pendleton ?15 and Jule Brown ?15 extended the lead to 12-0 and forced another East timeout. On the defensive end, it seemed the Aces were everywhere, forcing turnovers and preventing the Patriots from getting clean looks. As the quarter concluded, Johnson drilled a three, putting an early exclamation mark on a dominant all-around performance.
LM scored the first four points of the second quarter before the Patriots finally converted, prompting a loud ovation from a boisterous Dawg Pound. By halftime, the Aces lead had ballooned to 30 points. LM extended the lead again in the third and used its reserves for much of the second half.
The senior duo of McFadden and Johnson ?- two of the most experienced players in Aces postseason history -- set the tone in the Aces? playoff opener. McFadden finished with a team-high 19 points and collected 12 rebounds. Johnson added 15 points and a team-high seven assists. As has been the case for much of the second half of the season, they had a lot of help. The backcourt combo of Nick Jones ?15 (12 points) and Steve Pendleton ?15 (8 points) attacked the rim relentlessly and harassed the Patriots? guards all night. Brown (7 points) and Corey Sherman ?15 (5 points) delivered their usual defensive energy and unselfish play. LM?s reserves played hard and tough, much to the delight of LM?s adoring student section, who braved a driving snowstorm to chant, cheer and generally go nuts en masse.
The Aces now turn their full attention to a round two match-up on the road at Penn Wood. Tip-off is 7 PM Tuesday night. The Patriots, champs of the Del-Val League, beat Bishop Shanahan 74-48 on Saturday.