It’s a new season, but the Aces’ opening game had a familiar feel.
A spinning Terrell Jones’ 17 layup near the end of regulation forced overtime and LM outscored Rustin 7-3 in the extra frame to seal a 57-53 victory.
It was another overtime win for a team that had more of them (five) than any program in District 1 last year — including three in the first four games of the season.
For much of Friday’s contest, it looked like LM would get the job done on time.
With the Aces trailing 4-0 through the first four minutes of the game, Coach Downer inserted a lineup of five sophomores - including Jack Forrest, Theo Henry, Steve Payne, Darryl Taylor and Matt O’Connor — who keyed an 8-4 run to give LM a first quarter lead. A Henry three marked the team’s first points of the season.
The Aces extended their lead to as many as nine points in the second frame, before Rustin narrowed the gap to 27-21 at halftime. It was a wild 16 minutes of basketball, with the young Aces and Golden Knights showing some first-game rust. LM and Rustin combined for 26 first half turnovers, many of which came in transition.
Rustin kept within striking distance for most of the third quarter and mounted a surge late in the frame to knot the score at 36-36.
The fourth quarter was a taught affair, with the two teams trading leads five times. With the Aces trailing by two with less than four minutes to play, Khadafy Bilal ’17 dove to the floor to poke a loose ball free, triggering a driving and-one dunk by Terrell Jones ’17 that ignited the Dawg Pound. The teams traded buckets down the stretch, with Rustin taking a 50-48 lead with just over a minute to play on two free throws.
LM called timeout and set up a game-tying layup from Jones off a nice feed from Forrest. LM’s defense came up with a turnover and the Aces had a chance to win it in regulation, but a three-ball by Payne fell short at the buzzer.
The Aces scored the first six points of overtime and overcame a late Rustin three to hold on for victory.
It was an exciting way to start the season…maybe a little too exciting.
Game notes: LM's win was its first opening game victory since 2009...Bilal and Harrison Klevan '18 notched their first varsity points...Terrell Jones '17 led all scorers with 19 points.