There are few players in Aces history that have been part of more big games than Jule Brown, Steve Pendleton and Corey Sherman. State title games, District finals, state qualifiers, league championships ? they have seen them all. Until Wednesday night, however, their postseason careers had largely been played as members of the supporting cast.
With the Aces? 47-36 victory over Penncrest, the veteran trio cemented their own legacy by coming up big in the season?s most important moment to date.
With the Lions leading by one after a late third quarter surge, Brown calmly drilled a corner three to steady the ship. Pendleton then ignited a decisive 20-9 fourth quarter Aces run with two threes of his own. Finally, Sherman sealed the deal with two big defensive rebounds and five straight free throws when the Lions were forced to foul. When it was all over, the Aces had turned a 27-27 tie into an 11-point victory ? and their fifth straight trip to the state playoffs. They also advanced for the fifth straight year to the District quarterfinals, the longest active Round of 16 streak in District 1 AAAA.
Brown, who played perhaps his best all-around game of the season, finished with a game-high 14 points to go along with six assists, five rebounds and zero turnovers. Pendleton and Sherman finished with nine points apiece. Asher Barry ?15 delivered one of his strongest performances as well, scoring seven points and collecting a team-high 11 rebounds. KJ Helton ?16 (4 points), Jeremy Horn ?16 (4 points) and Eli Needle ?16 also chipped in with key contributions.
Perhaps most impressively, the Aces got it done on the defensive end, coming up with critical stops on consecutive possessions down the stretch. LM held the Lions to three single-digit quarters and their second-lowest point tally of the season.
It has been a roller-coaster season for the Aces, but the win on Wednesday night was sweet validation, particularly for three decorated seniors. A team that at times has appeared to play with the burden of someone else?s proud legacy is now creating its own.
Up next for the 12th-seeded Aces is a quarterfinals match-up with #4 Plymouth Whitemarsh on Friday. Tip-off is 7 PM at PW.
Notes: For the second time in three years, the Aces earned a trip to states with a victory over league rival Penncrest. LM did the same in 2013, beating the Lions 75-42...This is the ninth state playoff berth in the last 11 years for the Aces, the best run over an 11-year period in program history...