The Aces used a 10-0 fourth quarter run to shake off hard-charging Easton and beat the Red Rovers 66-54 in the PIAA AAAA quarterfinals at Reading High. With the win, LM advances to the PA Final Four for the first time since 2006.
Raheem Hall '13 scored a career-high 27 points to lead the Aces' attack. BJ Johnson '13 (14 points), Darryl Reynolds '12 (8 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks), Mike Robbins '12 (7 points), JaQuan Johnson '14 (6 points), Justin McFadden (3 points) and Yohanny Dalembert (1 point, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) rounded out the scoring.
LM was up by as many as 16 points in the first half and led by 11 entering the fourth quarter, but an Easton run cut the margin to three (50-47) with just over five minutes to play. After the two teams traded buckets, Robbins drilled a three from the left corner to ignite the Aces' decisive run. Over the last four minutes, LM outscored the Red Rovers 14-2 until a 70-foot heave by Easton at the buzzer sealed the final margin.
It seemed that every time Easton threatened, Hall made a key play to stem the tide. After Easton had closed a double-digit lead to eight points in the third quarter, the crafty junior spun baseline for a pretty reverse layup, then picked off the Red Rovers' inbounds and drove to the rim for another basket. Hall assisted on Robbins's big three, rebounding his own miss and kicking out to the senior swingman.
Other keys to victory included LM's 34-26 rebounding advantage and stellar free throw shooting down the stretch. The Aces shot 5-6 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. BJ Johnson finished 6-6 for the game. The Aces also received an important lift from McFadden, who sparked LM's first half surge with a corner three, and laid out in the third quarter to keep a ball in play that led to an Aces bucket. That effort brought the Dawg Pound to its feet -- if only temporarily; a District 3 rule prohibits fans from standing during the game. They had another chance at the end of the game, rising to celebrate consecutive dunks by Reynolds and BJ in the closing seconds, then lining the exits to congratulate the Aces on their big win.
The Aces' victory on Saturday was redemption of sorts for a team that saw its season end a year ago on the same Geigle Complex court. Many of the seniors from last year's squad were in the stands to cheer on their younger brethren. It was another memorable, meaningful moment for the Maroon & White in what has become a truly remarkable year.
Next up for LM is a match-up with Erie Cathedral Prep (21-5), the champions of District 10, who advanced with a 52-49 victory over Shaler. The Aces and Ramblers will play Wednesday night at a time and location to be determined.
LM: 14 18 15 18 - 66
E: 11 8 18 17 - 54