By Leo Clibanoff '18
The Aces arrived at Upper Darby Friday night facing one of the Central League?s hottest and most explosive teams in what was expected to be a high-scoring shootout. Instead, the Aces relied on defense to overcome their worst shooting night of the season, beating the Royals 55-44.
LM set the tone early, allowing just five first quarter points to a Royals team that had been averaging more than 60 points per game during their seven-game winning streak. LM kept the clamps on throughout, limiting Upper Darby to just 20 first-half points and two single-digit quarters.
But the Aces offense was slow to get on track. Despite double digit outings from Jack Forrest ?19 (16 points), Harrison Klevan ?18 (11 points) and Steve Payne ?19 (19 points), LM shot just 13% from the three-point line and 40% from the field. Solid interior play from Josh Martin ?19 (who finished with a team-high 15 rebounds) and strong perimeter defense from Payne and Darryl Taylor ?19, kept the Royals from making a run.
With the Aces leading 25-20 at halftime, UD chipped away in the third quarter, narrowing the gap to two on several occasions. But Forrest finally hit a three towards the end of the quarter and Payne made a long two to get the offense moving. In the fourth, it was all Aces as LM opened on a 10-3 to start the quarter and never allowed the Royals to make a rally.
The Aces travel to Garnet Valley on Tuesday for another tough Central League and District matchup at 7PM.