In front of a packed house at the Bryant Gymnasium, the Lower Merion boys’ basketball team defeated Chambersburg, 64-60, Wednesday evening in the opening round of the PIAA 6A state tournament.
The District 1 6A champions rallied from a 35-33 deficit in the third quarter for a 19-8 six-minute run. Strong foul shooting (the Aces finished 17-for-21 from the line) was a key factor in the victory.
Down the stretch, LM senior Henry Bard collected two loose balls, grabbed two offensive rebounds and hit two of the biggest free throws of his career.
“I have been practicing my free throws all week and I wasn’t making many of them,” said Bard. “I kept working on my routine and took the line with confidence and made both free throws. As far as the loose balls go, that is my role and I really embrace anything I can do to help the team.”
Lower Merion head coach Gregg Downer added, “[Bard] is a winner. He doesn’t care how many minutes he plays, he is type of guy you want to go to war with.”
LM senior Demetrius Lilley, who scored a game-high 30 points, was a strong presence inside, helping the Aces jump to an early 20-8 lead.
Chambersburg hit a trio of treys in the second quarter to narrow the Aces lead to 29-25 by halftime.
Late in the game, the two-time defending district champions were holding onto a narrow 57-54 lead when Bard came up with the first of his two loose balls and quickly found Sam Brown, who was subsequently fouled. Brown made both ends of the one and one to push the lead to 59-54. As the Trojans came down the court, Bard stepped in front of another pass and knocked it away before gathering it and finding junior Sam Wright.
Wright made one of two free throws to push the lead to six. After gaining another key stop, the Aces came up with a turnover and this time it was Bard who was fouled. The senior stepped to the line and knocked down both ends of the one and one to push the lead to 62-54 with less than a minute remaining to help seal the win.
Chambersburg hit two threes in the closing minute after the outcome had been decided.
With the victory, Lower Merion advances to the Sweet 16, and will play in the second round of the tournament Saturday March 12.
“It was an ugly win but I told the team you don’t get beauty points,” said Downer. “Credit to Chambersburg for playing a good game. They are well coached. I am so happy for the four seniors [Lilley, Bard, Jaylen Shippen and Peter Gribben] and getting a win in their final home game at Bryant Gymnasium.”
- Eddie Levin and Bruce Adams contributed to this article.