NEWTOWN SQUARE >> At halftime of a tied Central League semifinal against Lower Merion Sunday, it was a good sign for Garnet Valley that Austin Laughlin was just the Jaguars’ third-leading scorer.
The drought of 13 minutes to begin the second half in which three of the Jags’ starters were held off the scoreboard was less fortuitous. And the fact that the dry spell coincided with a star turn from a somewhat unlikely figure in the Aces’ ranks made that futility too much for the Jaguars to overcome.
Lower Merion’s Harrison Klevan stole the show with 16 points, including a decisive outburst of three consecutive 3-pointers to turn a tight game into a comfortable 72-59 win Sunday at Marple Newtown High School.
The victory sends the No. 2 seed Lower Merion into the Central League title game for the second consecutive season, where it’ll tangle with top seed Penncrest Tuesday night at 8 p.m. at Harriton.
Klevan hit four 3-pointers on an afternoon where the Aces’ other shooters were uncharacteristically chilly. Jack Forrest tallied a game-high 22 points but was just 2-for-5 from 3-point land. Steve Payne scored eight first-quarter points … then was silent offensively until the fourth, going 0-for-4 beyond the arc.
The struggles owed in part to Garnet Valley’s ability to close out on the prime targets of their scouting report. But further down the list of options, the defensive attention waned, and Klevan feasted.
“Jack and Steve are unbelievable,” Klevan said. “They’re the workhorses for our team. If we were getting a scouting report on our own team, Steve and Jack would be at the top of the list. I think they get the most attention, so we just have to be ready whenever we get a chance.”
Klevan certainly was. At 46-43 late in the third and Garnet Valley hanging tight despite the offense going into a lull after a rip-roaring first half, Klevan hit his three consecutive triples. The first was set up by a Darryl Taylor steal and assisted by Payne. Taylor cleaned up a GV miss and hit Klevan in transition the next time down. Then the quarter closed with Forrest rebounding a Payne miss and shoveling to Klevan on the right wing to hit nothing but net as time expired.
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