By Terry Thomas
The Chester Clippers (22-4) finished 3rd in the District-1 Tournament with a 72-64 decision over the visiting Bensalem Owls (18-8) at the Clip Joint.
With the opportunity to play an additional game at the Clip Joint, senior Rahmee Gilbert jump started the team with 8 first quarter points including two treys. Junior Shaquan Horsey started in place of the injured Zahmir Carroll and scored 4 first big points to give his team a 15-14 first quarter advantage.
With Horsey saddled in foul trouble, 6'4" sophomore Nasir Madison got to start the 2nd quarter and after grabbing a rebound was fouled. He connected on his two free throws igniting an 11-2 run that ended with his steal and layup forcing the Owls to call a timeout at the 5:20 mark and trailing 26-16. His four points marked his career high in only his second varsity game. During the run, Gilbert connected on his third trey and Akeem Taylor Jr became a force inside the paint. Two possessions later senior Akeem Taylor Jr was fouled and with 4:18 on clock made 1 of 2 free throws to become the 33rd member of Chester's Boy's 1000 Point Club. Senior J'shon Lawler entered the contest and took advantage of one of Taylor's seven blocked shots scored to get the Clipper lead back to 10 points at 29-19 with 3:40 remaining. The Clippers held off a late Owls run to take a 35-29 lead into intermission.
Chester opened the third quarter with increased defensive effort resulting in two steals by Taylor and a blocked shot by Horsey. On the offensive end, junior Karell Watkins made his presence felt scoring 4 of the Clippers first 6 points giving Chester a 41-31 lead and a Bensalem timeout at 5:51. Watkins added four additional points, junior Fareed Burton Jr scored his first two points of the contest coupled with two points apiece from Gilbert and Horsey. Chester took a 49-41 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Clippers used an inside/outside theme to start the fourth quarter. Junior Lenny Camacho connected on a trey, Taylor scored an old-fashion three-point play while driving to the basket and Watkins was feed on the block for two. On the Owls next possession, Watkins came up with a steal and a layup; he followed that up with a rebound and a feed to Taylor on the short corner for a bucket and a 61-45 Clipper lead. The Owls made a little run at the Clippers but a trey from Burton and then a steal and assist by Burton to Watkins put the game away 68-54 calling for another Bensalem timeout with 1:29 remaining in the contest. Taylor hit two free throws at 0:56.8, 70-57, and finished the game with a tomahawk dunk off an assist from Camacho as time expired.
Akeem Taylor Jr made the most of final game at the Clip Joint finishing with a double-double including a game high 21 points and 12 rebounds. He also matched his career high of 7 blocked shots giving him a career total of 82 moving him ahead of Kevin "YesGod TV" Thomas and Richard "Big Dog" Granberry. He also amassed 5 steals and 2 assists.
Karell Watkins returned to form with a double-double consisting of 18 points and 10 rebounds. He also had 4 assist and 2 steals. Rahmee Gilbert was the third Clipper in double digits with 13 points.
Chester will return to action in the first round of the State 6A Tournament on Saturday, March 7th. The Clippers will face off against the 3rd seed out of District-11; the winner of William Allen vs Easton scheduled for Saturday February 29th. The time and place of the contest is to be determined.
Update: Clippers State Tournament Game Information
The Chester Clippers (22-4) will open the State 6A Tournament on Saturday, March 7th against William Allen (23-5), the 3rd seed out of District 11. The game will be played at Oxford High School, 705 Waterway Rd, Oxford, PA 19363. Game time is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.