LOWER MERION 73, COATESVILLE 63
If Lower Merion does end up meeting Chester for top honors at Villanova, Friday night's PIAA District 1 Class AAAA quarterfinal matchup versus Coatesville served as the perfect tune-up.
The Red Raiders, with four impact players from a successful football squad, are quick, physical, and show no fear. "They're a pretty good example of Chester," Aces senior guard Raheem Hall said.
In a fast-paced contest before an overflow crowd, No. 2-seeded Lower Merion, with Hall producing 20 points and 10 rebounds, turned backed No. 10 Coatesville, 73-63, at Bryant Gymnasium.
"That team can really get up and down the floor," Hall said. "This was good for us. You want to see how you can handle that kind of speed."
The 6-foot-2, 165-pound Hall, who is receiving Division II interest, shot 9 for 12 from the field and 2 for 3 from the line. Seven of his 10 rebounds came on the offensive end.
"I expect every one of our shots to be a miss," he said. "That way, I'm crashing the boards all the time. I want to be in position to make a play on the ball."
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, as part of a semifinal doubleheader at Temple's Liacouras Center, Lower Merion (24-2) will take on No. 3 Great Valley (26-1). The Patriots advanced with a 41-38 triumph over No. 6 Methacton.
For the Aces, who have won 10 straight games since a 64-61 setback to Imhotep Charter on Jan. 19, senior swingman B.J. Johnson totaled 22 points, including two treys, six boards, and three steals.
Junior lead guard Jaquan Johnson contributed 12 of his 16 points in the first half; Yohanny Dalembert, a senior center, blocked five shots; and sophomore sub Corey Sherman chipped in five second-quarter points.
"We knew we were in for a real tough game," Aces coach Gregg Downer said. "There aren't a lot of teams that can put those kind of athletes on the floor. They have a ton of athleticism."
Ahead by 42-32 at the break, the Aces stretched their lead to 53-37 in the third quarter.
Coatesville climbed back in early in the fourth, with Leroy Hoggard's trey and Jaquan Hollingshed's three-point play making it 60-54.
Midway through the fourth, on a left-side drive, Hall's three-point play began a 9-0 spurt that sent the Red Raiders (20-7) packing.
Hoggard paced the visitors, who were hurt by 15 turnovers, with 18 points. Before leaving late in the game with an apparent ankle injury, Tyler Burke notched nine points and seven boards.
Coatesville 12 20 16 15-63
Lower Merion 23 19 16 15-73
C: Jaquan Hollingshed 6, Andre Boggs 8, Leroy Hoggard 18, Emmett Hunt 8, Chris Jones 8, Howard Sellars 6, Tyler Burke 9.
LM: Justin McFadden 4, Jaquan Johnson 16, Raheem Hall 20, Yohanny Dalembert 5, B.J. Johnson 22, Baird Howland 1, Corey Sherman 5.