Sam Oshtry '19
The Aces are kings of the Central League. LM put on a convincing performance on Tuesday night, downing Strath Haven 82-60 to capture the 2017 league championship -- their fifth in the last nine years and first since 2014.
In their biggest game of the season to date, the Aces played like champions from start to finish. LM led 13-11 after the first quarter and exploded on a 15-4 run to start the second quarter and seize control of the contest. Big threes from Jack Forrest ?19 and Matt O?Connor ?19 ignited the Aces' charge. At the half, LM led 30-22.
The Aces had perhaps their most dominant quarter of the season in the third. For eight minutes, LM literally could not miss, driving and finishing around the rim and kicking out to red hot shooters for a remarkable 13-13 shooting performance from the field. Steve Payne ?19 had 15 of the team's 31 points the quarter. The final frame was no different; Strath Haven attempted to press, but the Aces broke it quickly and efficiently, tiring out the Panthers and finding easy baskets in transition.
LM's sophomores led the way in their first experience in a title game. Payne tied his career-high with 26-points in an outstanding performance. Forrest was huge throughout the game finishing with 18 points. Darryl Taylor ?19 added 14 points and three steals. Terrell Jones ?17 had 12 and Noah Fennell ?17 scored 4. O?Connor came in off the bench and hit two big threes for six points. Harrison Klevan ?18 (2 points) rounded out the scoring.
With two minutes to go, seniors Jones and Fennell checked out of the game to a standing ovation from a raucous Dawg Pound, celebrating with teammates and coaches their second league title in four years.
Entering the season, the Central League was up for grabs in a deep and talented field of teams. After a 4-5 start, few people expected the Aces to win the league title, but determination and a "refuse to lose" mentality kept them in the hunt and put them in position to win a championship.
The Aces will now turn their attention to the District playoffs and a tough first round match-up with CB South on Friday at home at 7 PM.