LOWER MERION 61, GREAT VALLEY 35
Lower Merion's Yohanny Dalembert has made considerable strides in basketball, a sport he began playing only three years ago. Before that, while living in Haiti, soccer was his passion.
Dalembert showed his improvement on the hardwood in Tuesday night's PIAA District 1 Class AAAA semifinal playoff versus Great Valley, contributing 16 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks to a 61-35 triumph at Temple's Liacouras Center.
"He's playing with a lot of confidence," Aces coach Gregg Downer said. "I tell him that I need a double-double from him every game."
With the help of half-brother Sammy Dalembert, the ex-Sixer, the 6-foot-8, 220-pound senior forward moved here following the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010.
Against Great Valley, Dalembert produced six points and four boards in the first quarter, when Lower Merion sprinted out to a 16-7 advantage. He crammed eight points into the final eight minutes.
"I think I've gotten better at playing with my back to the basket," Dalembert said. "I owe a lot to the coaches here at Lower Merion. They've taught me a lot."
The second-seeded Aces (25-2) advanced to Friday's 9 p.m. final at Villanova's Pavilion, where they will take on top seed and defending champ Chester (23-3).
Dalembert shot 7 for 10 from the field and 2 for 2 from the line versus the third-seeded Patriots. He has received the most recruiting interest from Niagara. Drexel (Dragons coach Bruiser Flint was on hand at Temple) and Wagner are also in the mix.
Junior point guard JaQuan Johnson (14 points, five assists), sophomore reserve guard Corey Sherman (10 second-quarter points), and senior swingman B.J. Johnson (eight points, eight boards, four assists) also keyed the rout.
"I viewed Great Valley as a formidable opponent," Downer said. "It was really nice to get an early cushion against them."
The Patriots (23-2) shot 5 for 19 from the field (1 for 11 from beyond the arc) in the first half. They received 16 points, two blocks, and two steals from 6-5 junior Mikal Bridges.
Lower Merion is trying for its first district crown since 1996. The Aces lost to Chester, 61-53, in last year's final.
Great Valley 7 4 11 13-35
Lower Merion 16 13 16 16-61
GV: Cyree Ames 4, Mikal Bridges 16, Brad Sherry 3, Michael Gregory 3, Nate Cohen 2, Ryan Buchholz 4, Julian Alston 3.
LM: JaQuan Johnson 14, Raheem Hall 6, Yohanny Dalembert 16, B.J. Johnson 8, Justin McFadden 5, Corey Sherman 10, Doug Cotler 2.