By Terry Thomas
The Clippers fall to 3-3 with a 59-55 setback at the hands of the Lower Merion Aces in the nightcap of the Kobe Bryant Classic. Neither team could find the bottom of the basket in the first quarter that ended with Chester trailing 3-5 (and No, this isn't baseball). Chester began to make buckets in the lane while the Aces found their mark from distance with three treys which put the Clippers in the hole 24-15 at the half.
The Clippers made a run in the third quarter sparked by the outside/inside tandem of junior Akeem Taylor Jr and sophomore Karell Watkins. Taylor was hitting from distance with 12 points including two treys which opened the lane for Watkins to put back 6 of his team high 15 points. Senior Rahmaad DeJarnette sliced the lane for 4 points and junior Rahmee Gilbert added a trey as the Clippers closed the gap to 40-41 at the end of the quarter.
Watkins scored on Chester's first two possession of the 4th quarter and the Clippers took their first lead of the night 44-41 at the 7:00 mark. The Clippers went scoreless over the next 5:59 until a basket by DeJarnette stopped the 10-0 Aces run. With 1:01 on the clock, Chester trailed 46-51. Senior Michael Smith converted an Aces turnover into a bucket and cut the deficit to 48-51 with 49.3 second remaining. After the Aces knocked down two free throws, DeJarnette answered with a basket the lead was back to three, 50-53 with 28.5 on the clock. Watkins stole the inbound pass and a miss shot by Taylor had the Clippers foul to stop the clock. Unfortunately Lower Merion did not play nice at the line and converted both free throws. As Chester was forced to foul to save the clock, the Aces converted on 12 of 13 fourth quarter free throw attempts. Smith scored a bucket at the 9.2 mark and Gilbert drained another trey as the buzzer sounded.
Watkins finished with his 5th double-double in 6 games with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Taylor and DeJarnette joined him in double figures with 12 and 11 points respectively. Gilbert finished with 8, Smith tallied 6 and Zahmir Carroll completed the scoring with 3 points.
Next up for the Clippers are the St. Georges Tech (DE) Hawks on Saturday, December 29th in the Pete/Jameer Nelson Holiday Classic on the campus of Widener University. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.