By Sam Oshtry '19
The Aces suffered a heartbreaking 68-67 overtime loss to Garnet Valley on Tuesday night that was decided on a three-quarter court heave at the buzzer.
The Jaguars came out red hot, draining four first quarter threes and taking a 26-12 lead into the second quarter. The Aces went on a run of their own before the half, outscoring the Jaguars 20-10 in the second frame and narrowing the margin to 36-32 at halftime.
The Aces continued their strong play in the third quarter, controlling the pace of the game and limiting Garnet's dangerous perimeter attack. At the start of the fourth, the Aces led 52-47. With a five-point lead, LM slowed the game down, holding the ball on offense for long possessions. Garnet, however, remained patient and capitalized on several Aces miscues to tie the game at 55-55 with two minutes to play.
Off of a feed from Noah Fennell ?17, Jack Forrest ?19 drained a three, to take a three-point lead. Garnet responded with a three of their own to tie it with just over a minute to play. LM held the ball for the last shot of regulation, but couldn't convert.
The Aces got off to a quick start in overtime, holding the Jaguars scoreless for the first three minutes and taking a five-point lead. But several Aces turnovers and missed free throws opened the door for a wild finish. Garnet hit three three-pointers in the final 40 seconds of overtime, with the final blow being a double-clutch heave from just in front of the Aces bench as time expired and LM leading by two. The ball hit nothing but net, sealing the one-point victory for GV.
Both teams showed tremendous effort in a game that had more twists and turns than a Six Flags roller coaster. Terrell Jones '17 led the Aces with 32 points and almost single-handedly brought the team back from the brink of disaster in the first half. After LM lost the services of Steve Payne '19 in the first quarter, Theo Henry '19 came off the bench to play his finest game of the season, adding eight points and playing stellar defense. Jack Forrest '19 scored 12 points, Darryl Taylor ?19 racked up ten points and Noah Fennell '17 added three to round out the scoring.
Ultimately, the night belonged to Garnet Valley and their fantastic junior sniper, Austin Laughlin, who nailed the game-winner and put on one of the finest shooting displays in the history of Bryant Gymnasium. Laughlin was a one-man wrecking ball who sank six treys and finished with 36 points, despite being double-teamed and face-guarded for much of the evening.
Although this is a tough loss for the Aces, they must quickly look ahead to an important matchup on Friday night at Conestoga. All remaining games have important implications for the league and District playoffs.