By Terry Thomas
The Clippers (18-8) did not finish well in the final game at the Clip Joint in the 2017-18 season falling to the Wissahickon (19-9) Trojans 54-51 for the District-1's 4th seed heading into the State Tournament. The Clippers will face the District-12's 2nd seed, the loser of the Bonner-Prendie/Martin L. King game.
With point guard Michael Smith not in the starting lineup with remnants from his recent flu, the Clippers got to a slow start trailing 11-17 after the first quarter. Timothy Johnston led the Clippers in the first quarter with 4 of his 10 points. Brian Randolph III added a trey while Rahmaad DeJarnette (starting in place of Smith) and Javan Graham each contributed a basket. With Smith inserted in the 2nd quarter, Chester offense got on track with 16 points but it was not enough to offensive effectiveness of the Trojan who put up 18 points. Max Rappaport led the way for Wissahickon with 12 of his team high 14 points in that 1st half. DeJarnette led the Clippers with 6 second quarter points, Smith added 5 with Randolph and Johnston contributing 3 and 2 respective. Halftime: Chester- 27, Wissahickon - 35.
With Smith back at the helm controlling the Clippers offense in the 3rd quarter, Chester reversed the 8 point deficit into a 5 point lead at the end of the quarter. Chester - 46, Wissahickon - 41. By speeding up the tempo and his drive and kick ability allowed for open looks by Randolph and DeJarnette. Randolph score 10 of his game high 18 points and DeJarnette added the last 4 of his 12. Johnston contributed 3 and Smith connected on 2 of 4 throws for the team's 19 third quarter points. The Chester defense eliminated the open looks and back-door cuts the Trojans saw in the first half which resulted in the 6 point quarter.
As efficient as the Clippers were in the middle two quarter, they were the polar opposite in the 4th quarter. Chester's first four possessions resulted in turnover which the Trojans converting into points and Chester trailed 45-48 with 4:30 remaining. With the lead the Trojans were able to milk the clock and thus reduce the number of possession for the Clippers. Smith scored on Chester's next possession to cut the score to 47-48 at the 4:10 mark. With 2:49 on the clock, Timothy Johnston knocked down the first half of a one-and-and to tie the score at 49. Wissahickon responded with an old fashioned three-point play and after Randolph dropped in two foul shot, the Clippers were within one, 51-52 with 1:21 left in the contest. Once again the Trojans spread the floor but Rahmaad DeJarnette hauled in their missed shot and the Clippers had life with 46.6 second remaining. Coming out of the Chester timeout, it was the Clippers turn to spread the floor and milk the clock. Holding for the last shot, Rahmee Gilbert saw an opening and drove the lane. When he got off the floor, the whistle was blown but it was the 5th foul of Johnston for grabbing the Wissahickon player who rebounded the missed shot. He converted the two free throws for the final margin.
Chester begins its quest for the school's 9th State Championship on Friday, March 9th. Their opponent will be District-12's 2nd seeded Martin L. King; the game will tip-off at 7:30 at South Philadelphia High School, 2101 South Broad Street. The Tournament is single elimination - "Win or Go Home".