Plymouth Meeting, Pa. -- The pace went exactly how Lower Merion wanted it to. So did the game itself. In reducing the speed of their PIAA Class AAAA girls’ basketball first-round game against Carlisle at Colonial Elementary School on Friday, the Aces dealt the Thundering Herd the harshest blow they possibly could with a convincing 49-31 victory. With some sure-handed guards and a dominating center, Lower Merion eased to the eighteen point victory over Carlisle, ending the Thundering Herd’s season and advancing to the PIAA second round. Though the Aces prefer a slower game pace, they showed just how quick they can be in a pinch. Matched up with speedy Carlisle point guard Senada Mehmedovic, Lower Merion senior guard Erin Knox held the Thundering Herd’s star to a season-low four points on 2-of-5 shooting, well below her 18.8 point per game average.
“Erin prides herself as our defensive specialist,” Lower Merion head coach Lauren Pellicane said. “We knew the key to shutting them down was containing Mehmedovic. Erin took that as a personal challenge.”
Regarding Knox, Pellicane added: “I will say it over and over – her importance to this team does not show up on the stat sheet. She was phenomenal tonight”.
The real surprise from the Aces, however, was how well their offense coped without leading scorer Molly Hanlon. The 5-foot-10-inch senior guard had earned a team leading 11.5 points per game this season before going down with a fractured ankle in practice Monday. “Not having Molly Hanlon on the court has been difficult to say the least. It has been an emotional week for all of us,” Pellicane said. “We now have added incentive as we will play through her for the rest of the season.”
On offense, the backcourt of senior Lil Carney and sophomore Sheba Hall picked up the slack with some nifty moves to the basket tallying 13 and 10 points, respectively. Carney shot 6-of-12 from the floor and added a season-high six rebounds and three assists while Hall shot 4-of-7 from the field in addition to three steals, three assists and one block shot.
However, it was 6-0 senior forward Amy Woods that really made the difference, pulling down a career high 15 rebounds and earning the majority of her game-high 17 points on put-backs following missed Aces outside shots.
“Amy stepped up and had one of the top performances of the season,” Pellicane said. “Her work down low really set the tone for us offensively, opened up driving lanes and allowed us to spread the floor.”
Lower Merion was just 3-for-13 in 3-point shooting while Carlisle failed to hit a shot from beyond the arc in five tries. Carlisle shot 13-of-16 from the charity stripe as the Aces knocked down 2-of-4 from the foul line. The Aces out-rebounded the Thundering Herd 32-19.
With the victory, the Aces improve to 25-3 overall and will advance to the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ round of the PIAA tournament where they will face Central League rival Upper Darby on Tuesday, March 10th. The fourth meeting between the two teams will tip-off at 6:00 PM at Spring Ford High School in Royerstown, PA.
Lower Merion 10 15 15 9
Carlisle 5 11 7 8
Lower Merion: Amy Woods 8-1-17, Lil Carney 6-1-13, Sheba Hall 4-0-10, Kiki Worku 3-0-6,
Dana Albalancy 1-0-3, Erin Knox 0-0-0, Jessie Porter 0-0-0
Carlisle: Patterson 3-3-9, Corum, 2-5-9, Se. Mehmedovic 2-0-4, Morley 1-1-3, Baird 1-0-2, Sa. Mehmedovic 0-2-2, Russell 0-2-2