By Terry Thomas
The Clippers (17-6) wiped off the rust and breezed to a a 72-54 victory over the Academy Park Knights at the Clip Joint. With the win Chester advances to the Quarter-Finals and will host the visiting Sun Valley Vanguards on Saturday, February 24th. After both temas went scoreless the first 2:10, Coach Taylor called for a timeout and his troupes responded with an 8-2 run and control of the contest. Junior Michael Smith led with 5 first quarter points. The quarter ended with the Clippers ahead 15-9. With increased defensive pressure in the 2nd quarter, the Knights were forced into several turnovers which resulted in easy buckets for the Clippers. Smith added 5 more of his 12 points. Junior Rahmaad DeJarnette and freshman Karell Watkins came off the bench to score 5 and 4 points respectively. Timothy Johnston added 3 of his 5 and Javan Graham and Kylair Blackston each contributed buckets as the Clippers sailed pass the Knights with a 25-8 quarter. At the half it was Chester - 40, Academy Park - 17. The Clippers uncharacteristically went to sleep defensively in the third quarter giving the Knights open looks which allowed them to score 17 points. However, Brian Randolph III had a hot hand which produced 15 of his career/team high of 25 points. Baskets by Smith and sophomore Rahmee Gilbert allowed the Clippers to increase their lead to 59-34 at the end of the quarter. With the game under control Coach Taylor injected the reserves to finish the contest. Watkins led the charge with 6 of his 12 points just missing his young career high of 13 points. Junior Rahnell Sparks added a mid-range jumper from the baseline and Malik Langley and Isaiah Schmidt each connected on 1 of 2 free throws to close out the scoring. Although he didn't score JV call-up Ishaad Maultsby saw his first Varsity action in the 4th quarter.
The team finished with 18 assists on 30 made baskets led by Smith's career high of 7. Gilbert added 4, Blackston and Randolph each had 2 with DeJarnette, Johnston and Langley added 1 each.
With a win on Saturday, the Clippers advance to the Semi-Finals and a spot in the State Tournament. A loss puts the Clippers in the Consolation Bracket fighting for one of the final 3 spots in the State Tournament.