This is always one of the saddest days of the year. Chester High basketball is such a great symbol of the city that when the seasons ends, it takes a little bit out of me, and I know I speak for a few of you, too.
by Terry Thomas
The Chester Clippers (21-7) season was cut short after falling 96-82 to the Coatesville (29-2) Red Raiders before a standing room only crowd at Spring-Ford High School. The Fire Marshall ordered the doors closed after reaching their capacity of 2,200 leaving several hundred fans with and without tickets on the outside. Those arriving early enough to gain entry definitely got their money’s worth as the Coatesville back-court of juniors Dapree Bryant and Jhamir Brickus put on a show combining for 31 of their 32 fourth quarter points and 74 of their 96. Oh, by the way Brickus put up 52 points which is the most scored against the Clippers since I’ve been associated with the program dating back to the 1990-91 season.
Chester stayed close in the first quarter. With senior Michael Smith going to the bench after picking up his 2nd person foul at the 4:27 mark, senior Rahmaad DeJarnette’s led the way with 5 points and the Clippers trailing only 13-17. The teams exchanged baskets to begin the second quarter except it was 3 to 2 in Coatesville’s favor allowing them to pull away slowly. Smith returned in the 2nd quarter and his basket at the 1:32 mark put Chester down 10, 23-33. Coatesville ending the quarter with a 10-3 run; having scored on their each of their last four possession while Chester scored once in their last three. Chester trailed 26-43 at the intermission.
Chester began the 3rd quarter in typical Clippers fashion, pressure defense and increased offensive efficiency resulting in a 15-5 run to get within seven at the 4:08 mark, 41-48. Going scoreless on the next three possessions including two unforced turnovers enabled Coatesville to increase their lead to 41-56. The Clippers stayed with the Red Raiders the rest of the quarter not allowing them to pull further ahead. Senior Javan Graham produced 4 of his 7 points and DeJarnette added 7 of his 14 points during this stretch. The third quarter ended with Chester behind 49-64.
The Clippers fought hard in the final 8 minutes putting up 33 points but it was not enough. Senior point guard Michael Smith tried hard to bring his team back scoring 12 of his team high 25 points in his last 8 minutes as a Clipper but it was not enough. Junior Akeem Taylor Jr joined his teammate with 10 of his 17 and fellow junior Rahmee Gilbert contributed 7 of his 9 points. Junior Zahmir Caroll finished the season with 4 of his 9 points in the 4th. The Clippers strategy of fouling in the quarter to save time did not pan out as Coatesville connected on 14 of 20 free throw to secure the win.
The Clippers once again displayed team basketball with three players in double figures – Smith (25), Taylor (17) and DeJarnette (14), two players with nine points – Gilbert and Carroll and Javan Graham with seven points. Senior Christian Massena connected on 1 of 2 free throws for his final point as a Clipper. Carroll produced 10 rebounds falling just short of a double-double.
Michael Smith finishes his career with 1,065 points placing him 26th on Chester’s all-time list behind Steve “Nurse” Miller (1,074). He surpassed his Coach, Keith Taylor (1, 048) and brothers Rondae (1,056) and Rahlir (1,060) Jefferson along the way. Since we’ve been collecting stats starting with the 1992-93 season, Michael “Man-Man” Smith’s number of points (1065), assists (266), rebounds (257) and steals (106) makes him just the 5th Clipper player to produce 1000 points and triple digit numbers in the other categories while solely wearing the Chester uniform.
Thank you goes out to this year’s senior class of Rahmaad DeJarnette, Javan Graham, Christian Massena and Michael Smith for their hard work and dedication. It was truly a pleasure spending time with these young men. I wish them smooth sailing as they journey onward.
And a special thanks to Terry Thomas for providing these game recaps again this year. These recaps are the only full coverage the team gets and I’m proud to publish each and every one.
It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask, but if there was one person assigned to every sport team (high school girls and boys, middle school, Biddy, Panthers, Jackie Robinson, church bowling league) that would send a recap, we could give these kids the recognition they deserve for their hard work and accomplishment here in Chester.
What Terry provides is so rare at any school district or community sports league. Folks who used to count on newspaper sports reporters to cover games should know by now that the staffs are so small, it just ain’t happening. They’re counting on people at the games (like Terry Thomas) to send them the recaps to publish.
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