The Clippers outscored the Bayard Rustin Golden Knights 31-16 in the second half to capture the 2021 District-1 5A Championship by a 62-46 margin. In doing so, Chester earned their 24th District Championship and advances to the State Tournament where they will host District-2 Champion, Crestwood. The game will be played on Friday, March 19, 2021 with a 7:00 p.m. tip-off.
The first quarter was evenly played through the first 3 minutes and 30 seconds with 2 ties and 3 lead changes before Isaiah Freeman’s two free throws gave Chester the lead at 9-6. Karell Watkins blocked and shot, ran the floor and was feed a perfect dime from Jameel Burton Jr. Jameel rebounded the missed Golden Knight shot and went coast to coast to give the Clippers a 13-6 lead with 3:30 remaining. Rustin’s Griffin Barrouk scored on a pull-up jumper in the lane and on their next possess drained a trey from distance that would’ve made Step Curry smile. The game was now tied 13-13 with about 1:45 remaining in the quarter. Jameel would score and Chester recaptured the lead 15-13 at the 1:25 mark.
On Rustin’s next possession, Barrouk was being guarded by Freeman when the ball was knocked into the back court, the players collided diving for the loose ball and the gym went silent. The trainers were summoned to the court and a call for an ambulance was made. The collision resulted in a broken leg for Rustin’s Barrouk (Our thoughts and prayers go out to the young man and his family for a speedy recovery). Fans of both teams rose and applauded the efforts of the young man as he was carried off the court. Prior to him leaving the court, Freeman went over and relayed his sympathy for the accident. Once play resumed with 1:10 on the clock, Rustin scored to tie the game at 15. On Chester next possession, the Clippers held for the final shot and freshman Kyree Womack delivered a trey as the buzzer sound giving the Clippers a slim 18-15 lead.
After the Golden Knights scored to open the 2nd quarter, Fareed Burton Jr connected on consecutive trey to give the Clippers the lead 24-17 at 5:40. Chester only managed to score one point over their next six possessions and the scored tightened to 25-23 with about 3 minutes to go. On their next three possessions, Freshman Larenzo Jerkins connected on two free-throws, followed by two free-throws from Watkins and Jameel Burton capped the 6-0 run with a steal and lay-up. With 1:50 on the clock, Chester now led 31-23. Unfortunately for the Clippers, they’d go scoreless over their final six possessions and escape to the locker room with a 31-30 lead at the intermission.
The Clippers came out of intermission focused and appeared to be a different team. The defensive effort was better and their offensive selection was much improved. Senior Shaquan Horsey blocked a shot that led to a bucket by Fareed. The guard rewarded the big man with a pass on the block for a bucket. Kyree Womack stole the ball, passed to Jameel who feed a sprinting Watkins for a layup causing Rustin to call their 4th time-out of the game with 5:49 on the clock and trailing 37-30. The time-out did not help. Horsey block another shot, ran the floor and had a put-back basket, Watkins connected on two free-throws and followed that with an old-fashioned 3-point play. Chester – 44, Rustin – 32 with 2:48 on the clock. Womack and Watkins each scored four points to close the quarter.
The Clippers defense held their opponents to a mere 6 points during that 8-minute stretch as their lead ballooned to 52-36.
Offensively, the Clippers lost the wind for their sails in the fourth quarter with six turnovers in their first nine possessions. With their defense still on points they were able to maintain a cushion of 54-41 with 3:33 remaining. They managed to regroup enough to play even for the fourth quarter and maintained their 16-point victory.
In the locker room, Senior Karell Watkins presented Coach Taylor the game ball in honor of his capturing his first District Championship. The win also earned Coach Taylor his fourth consecutive trip to the State Tournament as well as evened his overall record against Rustin at 2-2.
The Clippers defense did not allow a single Rustin player to reach double-figures.
Watkins was Watkins, a double-double yet again – 13 rebounds to go along with a game high 24 points. Fareed Burton Jr joined him with 14 points, 4 steals and 3 assists. Jameel Burton Jr just missed double figures with 9 points also providing 2 assists, rebounds and steals. While only scoring 2 points, Isaiah Freeman made his presence felt hauling in 6 rebounds. Shaquan Horsey finished with 4 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Freshman Kyree Womack and Larenzo Jerkins completed the scoring with 7 and 2 points respectively.