Rosemont – When it was announced that the Harriton – Lower Merion basketball doubleheader would be scheduled for Jan. 12, it was one that would be marked on the calendars of many who enjoy when the two township high schools gather in one location for an action-packed evening.
“This game is definitely special,” said Lower Merion alum Oliver Henry, who was in attendance Tuesday evening at Harriton. “This game is a lot of fun because you are playing kids you played against almost your whole life through PVJSA, middle school and then high school. My brother asked me if I wanted to go this evening and I just remember coming into the environment and how special it was. Hopefully these kids will make memories for themselves.”
Harriton alum Jake Rosenberg added, “You marked this game on your calendar. It’s the best feeling because you play in front of the community and fans you know. It brings back a lot of memories to come back and watch the younger kids play. I kind of wish I still had the opportunity to play.”
This year’s edition was no different with the crowd at fever pitch as the both boys teams took the court for warm-ups following a girls’ game that went down to the closing minutes with Lower Merion throwing everything at Harriton before the Rams finally gained some breathing room to earn the hard fought 47-36 win.
Leading the way for the Rams who went 18-for-22 from the free throw line as a team was Sophie Grady who finished with 29 points (18 in second half) with Alana Swift adding eight points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Bethany Eldridge paced Lower Merion with 10 points and five rebounds.
As tip-off grew closer for the boy’s game the student sections from both Harriton and Lower Merion were ready with encouraging chants for their respective teams.
Lower Merion started strong building a 28-14 halftime lead that would balloon to 39-18 after three quarters. Harriton refused to go quietly slicing the lead to 12 before Lower Merion buckled down to earn the 53-34 win.
Pacing Lower Merion’s balanced attack was K.J. Helton and Terrell Jones with 12 points each with Jeremy Horn adding 11 points. Will Esposto led Harriton with eight points while Jermaine Brokenborough and Idris Ransom chipped in with seven points each.
With each passing year it seems like the rivalry continues to grow especially with both teams being a member of the Central League.
“This is definitely a social event,” said Harriton boys basketball coach Jesse Rappaport. “The community comes out and it’s exciting for the kids to play in a great environment. It has taken on new meaning since we joined the Central League. You can’t take a night off and playing in this type of environment is tough. We tried to pump in crowd noise but you can’t simulate this environment.
Lower Merion coach Gregg Downer added, “It’s always nice to see a big crowd for a rivalry game that has taken on more meaning since Harriton has joined the Central League.”
In addition to the action on the court, the two teams got together to help Lucy Belle’s Rainbow by collecting new and unused art supplies.