by Terry Thomas
The Chester Clippers (19-6) finishes the District Tournament in 6th place after falling to the Norristown Eagles 67-60 at Norristown. After trailing by 15 entering the final 8 minutes, the Clippers continued to work hard and closed the gap to 65-60 with 21.9 seconds remaining. After forcing a turnover, the Clippers missed their next shot and the Eagles responded by knocking down two free throws for the final margin.
The Clippers could not find the wind to move their sails in the first half. Tonight’s contest was just the opposite of their last game. In that game they had zero turnovers in the first half however in this contest they committed 10 first half turnovers allowing the Eagles to take a 38-23 lead into intermission. Additionally their free throw shooting was a mirror image of their turnovers. On Tuesday they were connected on 17 of 18 but tonight they were 10 of 16, while the Eagles, conversely went 11 of 12.
Norristown opened the third quarter with an 8-2 run and their lead ballooned to 21 points, 46-25, at the 4:40 mark. Four possessions later and trailing by 23 points, senior Michael Smith scored on a layup at 3:10 bringing the score to 48-27. The basket was his 10th point which allow him to join the exclusive 1000 point club. He becomes just the 31st Clipper to achieve this distinguished goal. He finished the night with a game high 21 points giving him a career total to date of 1,011. This places him in 29th place on the list just above Micah Covert (1,010). Each team totaled 14 points in the quarter.
The Clippers finally decided to take care of the ball in the fourth quarter and with on two turnovers were able to put pressure on the Eagles. Sophomore Karell Watkins produced 8 of his 12 points, senior Javan Graham work hard for 6 of his 10. Smith added 5, senior Rahmaad DeJarnette helped with 3 of his 5 and junior Rahmee Gilbert hit 1 of 2 free throws. He’d finish with 3 points. Chester outscored Norristown 23-15 in the final eight minutes but it was not enough.
Akeem Taylor Jr added 7 first half points and sophomore Fareed Burton Jr put in 2 third quarter points to complete the team’s scoring.
The Clippers now move on to the State Tournament which opens on Saturday, March 9th. Their opponent will be decided on Saturday, March 2nd as they get the runner-up of the District 11 Championship between William Allen and Parkland. The site and time of the contest is to be determined.