Thursday, March 12, 2020

Chester Advances to Elite 8

By Terry Thomas

The Clippers (24-4) recovered from a twelve-point halftime deficit to defeat the Simon Gratz Bulldogs (24-6), 63-62, on a three pointer from senior Zahmir Carroll at Cardinal O'Hara High School. Simon Gratz entered the tournament as the District-12 (Philadelphia) champions. The win advances Chester into the PIAA 6A Quarterfinals against the Reading Red Knights on Saturday, March 14th at a site to be determined. Chester now holds a 6-2 edge against District-12 (Philadelphia) and 2-0 record against Gratz in the State Tournament.

Playing in front of a standing room only crowd, Chester opened the game with a 7-2 run capped by a steal and dunk by Akeem Taylor Jr at the 3:10 mark. However, the Bulldogs responded by closing the quarter with a 10-2 burst. Chester - 9, Simon Gratz - 12. In the 2nd quarter, Chester became careless with the ball and Gratz took advantage of the opportunities outscoring the Clippers 19-10 putting the Clippers in a 19-31 deficit at the intermission.

Simon Gratz opened the third quarter with a trey, but the Clippers stormed back with a with a 17-2 run. Zahmir Carroll's bucket tied the score at 36 with 2:42 left in the quarter. The teams exchanged baskets with the score being tied on 3 occasions before junior Karell Watkins scored as time expired giving Chester a 43-41 lead. Chester outscored Gratz 24-10 in the quarter. Watkins led the way with 9 of his game high 22 points followed by Fareed Burton Jr's 6 points including hitting on 4 of 4 free throws. Seniors Rahmee Gilbert and Akeem Taylor Jr added 4 and 3 points respectively. Taylor connected on 3 of 4 free throws.

After missing a shot to open the 4th quarter, Watkins came up with a steal and was assisted by Burton for a bucket for a 45-41 Chester lead.  with a Watkins steals. Gratz fought back and recaptured the lead, 49-48, after a trey from Yasir Rowell at the 5:40 mark. Watkins scored after an offensive rebound putting the Clippers in front 50-49 and a Chester timeout at 5:05. Chester failed to score on their next three possessions and now trailed 50-51 at 3:41. The Clippers scored on 3 of the next 4 possessions but the Bulldogs scored all four times and now led 56-59 with 1:10 left. Carroll grabbed a defensive rebound and Burton drove the lane for a finger-roll getting the Clippers with one, 58-59, and a Chester time-out with 34.3 second remaining in the contest. Carroll answered the Bulldogs two scoring off an offensive rebound to stay within one, 60-61, with 11.8 seconds on the clock. Yes, another Chester timeout.

Out of the timeout, although they were in the double bonus Chester was forced to foul putting Gratz on the line for two free throws. Watkins rebounded the second missed shot and heaved a pass to Taylor. Unfortunately, Taylor was called for an offensive foul with 0:05.3 on the clock. This time it was Gratz calling the timeout. Out of the timeout once again the Clippers were forced to foul and with 4.3 seconds the Bulldogs connected on the first free throw; Chester - 60, Gratz - 62. The second free throw rimmed out, Watkins jumped up, snatched it and before touching ground outlet the ball to Carroll streaming down the right side of the court. Carroll was just outside the three-point line when he let the ball go and it hit nothing but bottom just before the buzzer sounded. Chester - 63, Simon Gratz - 62.

The players and fans stormed the floor releasing 24-hours of emotions.

R.I.P. - Edward Harmon and Get Well Soon - Jermere Clark
The Chester players and coaches played this game with heavy hearts due to the recent tragedy that has fallen upon them. On Tuesday (3/10/2020) afternoon, these two members of this year's team were playing basketball in front of Ed's house when an unknown individual decided to open fire and shoot these two young men. Their families along with a strong representation of the student body were in attendance at tonight's game. Their families and the team lined up at mid-court as they were greeted by the Simon Gratz and Mastery Charter North (Girls) teams in an emotional display of respect and unity. Much respect to them as well as the Cardinal O'Hara game administrators for allowing that moment as well as the "Moment of Silence". 

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Chester Advances to 2nd Round of States

By Terry Thomas

The Clippers (23-4) moves on to the 2nd Round of the State 6A Tournament with a 76-63 victory over the William Allen Canaries (23-6) at Oxford Area High School. Chester entered the tournament as the 3rd seed out of District-1 with William Allen the 3rd seed out of District-11. With the victory, the Clippers stretched their State Tournament win streak over District-11 to 14 games and now hold a 22-2 overall tournament record against District-11; including 3-0 vs. the Canaries.

The first quarter was a fast-paced see-saw affair. The Clippers opened with a 6-0 start followed by a 7-0 run by the Canaries. After trailing 6-7, there were three lead changes that followed with Chester regaining the lead 12-11 with a Karell Watkins put-back of a missed free throw with 1:47 left. The Canaries closed the quarter with another 7-0 run; Chester trailed 12-18.

Looking to open the floor, Chester started senior Faheem Berry and he responded opening the 2nd quarter with a trey; Chester trailed 15-18. The teams exchanged basket over the next five possession and then Berry connected on another trey to deadlock the score at 25 with 5:10 showing on the clock. Over the next 1:45 there were 3 lead changes before junior Shaquan Horsey took a feed from Watkins to tie the score for the 4th time in the quarter at 31 with 3:25 left. It was the Clippers turn to end a quarter with a run and they responded with a 9-2 burst to take a 40-33 lead into intermission. Chester held a 28-15 scoring edge in the 2nd quarter led by Watkins with 9, Fareed Burton Jr with 7, Berry's 6, Rahmee Gilbert contribution of 4 and Horsey's 2 points.

The Clippers held a slight 15-14 scoring advantage in the third quarter to open their lead to 8 points, 55-47, going into the final quarter. Burton, Watkins and Akeem Taylor Jr each contributed four points with Gilbert knocking down a trey.

The rhythm of the game stayed true to form with the Canaries opening the final period with a 7-2 run to get within three at 57-54 with 6:00 left in the contest. Yes, Chester countered with a 7-0 run of their own recapturing control of the game. With 3:40 on the clock, the score read: Chester - 64, William Allen - 54. The team once again exchanged baskets senior Zahmir made his presence felt scoring with 2 minutes to go for 70-59 lead. He scored on the next possession, 72-59, and Gilbert scored on the next two possessions to push the lead to 76-59 with about 1 minute left in the game.

The Clippers used a balanced attached with four of their starters in double figures led by Watkins with a game high of 22 points. He was joined by Fareed Burton Jr with 15, Rahmee Gilbert with 14 and Zahmir Carroll's 10 points. Akeem Taylor Jr the remaining starter finished with 7 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 blocked shot and 1 steal.

Rahmee Gilbert dished 3 assists on the night bring his career total to 200. In doing so he becomes just the 11th Clipper since 1992 to join that club. He also collected 2 steals bringing his career total to 175 moving him ahead of Naeem Scott and tying him with Eric "Pooh" Evans.

Watkins meanwhile hauled in 5 rebounds bring his season total to 261 and his career total to 606. With 261 he moves ahead of Richard "Big Dog" Granberry and he comes just the 8th Clippers since 1992 with over 600 rebounds. He surpassed Nasir Robinson on that list.

The Chester Clippers (24-4), 3rd seed out of District 1, will play the 2nd Round of the State 6A Tournament on Wednesday, March 11th against the Simon Gratz Bulldogs (23-5), the District 12 (Philadelphia) Champions. The game will be played at Cardinal O'Hara High School, 1701 Sproul Rd, Springfield, PA 19064. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.