By Matthew DeGeorge
The look on Mike Doyle’s face, the combination of regret and necessary resilience, said it all Wednesday night.
For three and a half quarters, Doyle’s Penncrest team played Lower Merion even. They did enough to stay close in their District One Class AAAA second-round game, but ultimately not enough to get over the top in a 47-36 loss to the No. 12 seed Aces.
“We know we played them even for three quarters,’ the senior guard said. “Maybe if we make some shots, we win this game.’
The No. 28 seed Lions toted plenty of maybes onto the bus with them after leaving the Bryant Gymnasium. What if they weren’t whistled for 17 fouls to Lower Merion’s eight, a pronounced difference even before they were forced to send the Aces to the line in the game’s final two minutes? What if there was more equity in the free throw shooting numbers, Penncrest taking six trips to the charity stripe to LM’s 26?
What if Penncrest had shot better than 3-for-14 from 3-point land? Or for that matter, an unsightly 12-for-34 on twos?
Against a scrappy but hardly vintage Lower Merion team that was ripe for an admittedly minor upset, Penncrest just didn’t do the little extra that was needed to win away from home in the playoffs.
Much of the credit for that goes to a Lower Merion defense that threw myriad looks at No. 28 Penncrest (14-10). The result of all those different zones, presses and man-to-man approaches was a 12-point first-half output for Penncrest, the Aces grinding the game to a four-corners halt and nursing a 19-12 lead at the break.