Slamming Centrals

LM boys’ basketball made their presence known in the Central League with a dominant performance.

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After missing out on the Central League playoffs last year due to COVID-19 complications, LM’s boys varsity basketball team capitalized on the opportunity to remind their fellow Central League competitors of their superiority. Defeating Conestoga in the Central League semifinals, the Aces followed up by conquering Radnor in the championship game. Although it only took the Aces two games to earn the Central League title, their success extends far beyond these victories in the playoffs. 

Prior to the championship game, the Aces’ players and coaches held intense practices and preseason workouts throughout the summer and preseason. John Mobley ’24 notes that “we all have a relationship on [a] different level that most teams don’t have.” Mobley continued to hint at the team’s outstanding work ethic, stating that the players are “all very committed when it comes to nutrition and sleep.” As a result of the team’s hard work throughout the offseason, the Aces succeeded during the regular season despite lingering injuries. The Aces concluded the regular season having won 15 of their 17 Central League matchups, earning themselves a first round bye in the playoffs.

Following their first round bye, the Aces advanced to the second round to face their conference rival Conestoga. The Conestoga Pioneers, led by senior Michael Walz, boasted a twelve win and five loss record in league play. Although one would assume Walz’s presence to be a potential threat for the Aces, his impact on the game was limited due to an outstanding defense from Henry Bard ’22. LM showed off why they earned a first round bye as they surged to a 29-9 lead to start the game. Although the Pioneers went on an 8-0 run in the second quarter, the Aces were able to regroup and comeback, winning the game 55-33. In celebration of their victory, a rambunctious Dawg Pound stormed the court in exhilaration. Sam Brown ’23 and Demetrius Lilley ’22 combined for 44 points in the game, scoring 27 and seventeen respectively.

After proving the Pioneers were no competition, the Aces moved on to the championship round against the Radnor Raiders. The Raiders also won fifteen of their seventeen Central League matchups, meaning a championship victory wouldn’t come easy for the Aces. Throughout the entirety of the game, the Aces held a lead. It wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter that the Aces started to deepen their inferior opponent’s wounds, transforming a three point lead to double digits. This spurt was led by heroic efforts from Peter Gribbin ’22, Jaylen Shippen ’22, and Demetrius Lilley ’22. Juniors Justin Poles, Sam Wright, and Brown then proceeded to hit eight of ten free throws in the closing minutes of the game, helping the Aces seal the win with a final score of 59-49.  

Immediately after the final buzzer sounded, both players and student fans were ecstatic with the championship win. In the words of Owen McCabe ’24, winning the championship was “one of the coolest moments I’ve been a part of.” Brown stated, “It felt great to win the championship. In some ways we feel robbed of that chance last year with the team being out due to COVID-19, so being able to compete in that environment was great.” As for the fans’ reaction to the victory, Alex Frankel ’22, one of the Dawg Pound’s many leaders,  added that they “Were super excited to see our boys win the Central League title because we knew they were very deserving of it. The energy during the game was great and I think we fed off of that in our celebration.” 

With LM’s win over Radnor, head coach Gregg Downer added yet another Central League championship to his resume; his 16th of the school’s 38 total league championships. In regards to the team’s success, Poles stated that, “We’re really excited to be in the state tournament. Winning districts was definitely one of our big accomplishments and something that was on our to-do list for the season…We wanted to win all three championships and all of those are still at stake right now so we’re just excited to get to the state championship.” Although the Aces had much to celebrate following the game, the ultimate goal of winning this year’s state tournament is yet to come. Hopefully the Aces will be able to ride off their Central League success into both the district and state playoffs.

 

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