The Aces overcame an early 14-6 deficit and held on late for a thrilling 58-55 victory over York High at the McCaskey Holiday Classic on Monday night. It was a total team effort for LM, who controlled tempo against the high-flying Bearcats and came up big in the game's most important moments.
LM came out of the gates slowly, but showed poise and patience in chipping away at York's early lead. Threes by Terrell Jones '17 and Noah Fennell '17 and the strong inside play of Dion Harris '17 and Jeremy Horn '16 set the tone in a strong second quarter surge. Just before the end of the first half, Zack Magill '16 found Eli Needle '16 on a beautiful drive and dish; Needle converted the layup and was fouled and made the free throw to give LM its first lead of the game. The Aces arrived at halftime up 31-30.
In a tight second-half that saw multiple lead changes, the Aces began to take charge towards the end of the third quarter thanks to strong play from KJ Helton '16 who hit a three-pointer and converted two acrobatic layups in the frame. Magill and Fennell also hit from beyond the arc and the Aces' forwards patrolled the glass to give the Aces additional clock and scoring opportunities.
A Helton bucket with just under three minutes to play in the fourth gave the Aces their largest lead of the game at 54-47, but the Bearcats would not go down quietly. A quick bucket and two LM turnovers helped York claw to within one at 56-55 with less than five seconds on the clock. Despite heavy pressure on the ensuing inbounds play, Helton found Magill, who was fouled and converted two bonus free-throws. A York desperation heave rimmed out and LM celebrated a hard-earned victory against a quality opponent.
Key to the victory was the Aces' second half defense, which included two huge charges taken by Needle and Magill. The Aces got stops when they needed them most, a sign of improvement in this young season.
The Aces return to action Tuesday night in the finals of the McCaskey tournament against the host school, who outlasted West York 78-73.