J.C. Fremont '18
And then there were four.
The Aces’ improbable run through the postseason took another remarkable turn Friday night — this time towards North Broad Street.
LM exploded on a 16-0 run to start the game and rocked Conestoga 68-45 to earn a trip to Temple University’s Liacouras Center on Tuesday for the the District 1 Semifinals.
After falling twice during the regular season to the Pioneers, the Aces got their revenge when it mattered most. Playing a tough and determined brand of basketball from the jump, LM delivered punch after punch including an epic haymaker in the first quarter that immediately had Conestoga on the ropes. Consecutive driving layups by KJ Helton ’16 and three Noah Fennell ’17 treys opened the scoring and the Aces’ defense kept the Pioneers off the board for nearly five minutes of play. When Fennell hit the third of his threes, forcing a second Conestoga timeout, the Dawg Pound — nearly 300 strong — erupted in an absolute frenzy, sending Bryant Gymnasium into convulsions and likely registering on the Richter scale.
The Pioneers were able to muster a brief comeback, drawing within nine points by the end of the frame, but the damage had been done. The Aces held a double-digit lead throughout most of the second quarter and entered halftime up 36-26.
A slow third quarter start enabled Conestoga to briefly get within six - the narrowest margin of the game — but LM quickly regained its footing and pushed the advantage back to ten points on a backdoor bucket by Fennell and an inside finish by Jeremy Horn '16. In the fourth quarter, the Aces delivered the knockout blow —outscoring Conestoga 24-10 on a barrage of drives to the rim by Terrell Jones’ 17 and Helton, who scored three more buckets of his own and found Horn for four more in the period.
Fennell led four Aces in double figures with 18 points on 7-10 shooting from the field. Horn finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. Helton added 15 points and 7 assists and Jones finished 11 points. Zack Magill ’16 (3 points), Steve Payne (1 point) and Matt O’Connor ’19 (3 points) rounded out the scoring.
O’Connor’s trey off a no-look feed from Najja Walker-X ’17 in the closing minute provided the night-capper. As the ball went through the net and the final seconds ticked off the clock, the decibel level in the gym rose to fever pitch. The Aces bench and Dawg Pound poured onto the floor in jubilation. Fans and players danced in a scene that has been oft-repeated in Aces Nation. It never gets old, but somehow this dance felt uniquely fresh and a little different. With no one left on the roster from the 2013 championship squad — the last team to make a District Final 4 -- it was clear that this was a new chapter for a new team, with many fans experiencing old school Aces magic for the first time.
The Aces’ next stop is Temple’s Liacouras Center on Tuesday night at 6 PM for a semifinals matchup with Plymouth Whitemarsh. Ticket information and additional game details will be posted on aceshoops.com and the Aces Basketball Facebook page in the coming days.