By Terry Thomas
The Chester Clippers moved to 9-5 as Michael Smith goes 8 for 8 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to secure the win over the visiting Harrisburg Cougars (9-5). Chester's win streak for 2018 is now at 8 games. Javan Graham starting for the injured Rahnel Sparks got the Clippers started with bucket he would score his only 3 points in the period. The Clippers found wind for their sails inside the Clip Joint and jumped out to a 14-8 lead forcing a timeout from the Cougars at the 3:39 mark. The Clippers points were produced by Smith (5), Brian Randolph III (4) and Rahmee Gilbert (3). The timeout did not stop the wind in the Clippers sails as they ended the quarter outscoring the Cougars 7-5 for a 21-13 lead. Graham's 1 of 2 free throws were sandwiched between treys from Randolph and Isaiah Schmidt. The Clipper turned the ball over twice to open the 2nd quarter allowing the Cougars to drawn within three at 21-18. After missing two free throws, Zahmir Carroll put back a missed Schmidt jumper for a 23-18 Clippers lead. With Smith on the bench since the 6:56 in the second quarter after picking up his second foul, Chester was able to score just 5 points the rest of the way on a floater by Gilbert and Timothy Johnston 3 of 4 free throws. This was enough however for the Clippers to take a 28-26 lead into intermission. The Clippers were even less productive offensively in the third quarter only scoring 6 points. Sophomore Malik Langley starting the 3rd quarter for the injured Rahmee Gilbert connected on a trey and Johnston added the other three on a free throw and a put back. Harrisburg produced another 13 point quarter and Chester trailed 34-39 after three quarters. Schmidt opened the final quarter with 5 quick points to cut the deficit to 39-41 at the 6:10 mark. With both teams going scoreless on the next possessions, Smith knocked down triple from the top of the key and the Clippers regained the lead 42-41 at 4:50. After a turnover and two missed free throws, Chester was behind once again 42-44 with 3:52 remaining. 3:08 - Smith returned to the line shooting a 1 and 1 and knocked down two to tie the score at 44. 2:10 - this time it was Carroll at the line with a 1 and 1, he drained both to tie the score at 46. 1:28 - trailing 46-48, Schmidt drove the lane where he was fouled and made 1 of 2 and Chester was now down 47-48. 1:11 - after a steal and an old-fashioned three point play, the Clippers took the lead for good at 50-48. The Clippers held the Cougars scoreless on their last three possessions while Smith went to the free throw line on Chester's last three possessions where he was 6 of 6 for the final margin of victory. Chester doubled Harrisburg in the final quarter 22-11 led by Smith (11), Schmidt (6), Randolph (3) and Carroll (2). The twenty-two included the team connecting on 12 of 15 free throws.
Smith and Randolph finished in double figures with 16 and 10 points respectively while Schmidt just missed with 9 points. The rest of the Clippers scoring came from Johnston (6), Gilbert (5), Carroll (4) and Graham and Langley each contributed 3. Gilbert did not play in the second half after twisting his ankle in the closing seconds of the 2nd quarter.
Chester returns to league play on Tuesday - January 23rd, when the Chichester Eagles visit the Clip Joint. This will be the 2nd in a four game home stand for the Clippers. The JV will tip-off at 6:00 p.m. with Varsity to follow.