by Terry Thomas

The Chester Clippers (13-1) needed an additional 4 minutes of play to earn a trip to the Semi-finals with a come from behind 58-52 win over the Crestwood Comets (17-2). Chester will host the Semi-finals game against District-12 Champion, Archbishop Ryan on Monday, March 22nd with a 7:00 pm tip-off.

The Clippers were out of character in the first quarter, it took a put-back basket by Isaiah Freeman with 35 seconds remaining to end their drought. Between the turnovers and the missed shots, Chester found themselves trailing 2-9 at the end of the quarter. Yes, that’s Chester with only two points in the quarter. The Clippers did however do a good job protecting the three-point line by not allowing any in the quarter.

The Clippers continued with their defensive plan of protecting the three-point line and began to find their mark offensively in the second quarter. Karell stole and pass resulting in a trey by Fareed Burton Jr to get the Clippers closer at 14-17 with 1:35 on the clock. Chester missed on their next three shot attempts and entered intermission trailing 15-21.

The third quarter had the Chester faithful energized with the standard Clippers run. They race out with a 13-1 run taking a 28-22 lead at the 2:06 mark capped with two free-throws from Jameel Burton Jr. A steal and lay-up by Fareed tied the score at 22 with 5 minutes to go. The Clippers went scoreless over the final 2+ minutes and the Comets responded with a 7-0 run to recapture the lead at the end of the quarter. Chester – 28, Crestwood – 29.
The Clippers opened the fourth quarter scoreless on their first two possessions. Watkins hauled in one of his defensive rebounds which led to a bucket by Fareed that tied the game at 30 with 6:30 on the clock. The Clippers turned the ball over on their next couple of possessions and now trailed 30-33 at 4:18. The teams exchanged baskets until with 58 seconds on the clock, the Clippers found themselves trailing 37-43 and the Comet fans could smell the win. But the Clippers on the other hand called to mind the old Under-Armour slogan of “I will …protect this house” and dug deep. The Comets helped by missing crucial free-throws in the final quarter. They were a woeful 4 for 13. Trailing 40-43 with 7.2 seconds on the clock, freshman Kyree Womack was fouled on a three-pointer and calmly sank all three foul shots tying the game forcing overtime. 

The Clippers sprinted out in the overtime with a 12-4 run for their biggest lead of the night at eight points, 55-47 with 1:21 on the clock. The teams exchanged leads to open the frame then Jameel Burton Jr drained a trey to give Chester the lead 47-45 with about 3 minutes to go. The Clippers would never relinquish the lead. Chester went 6 for 6 from the charity-strip, Kyree (4 for 4) and Fareed Burton Jr (2 for 2); Karell Watkins capped off the run with an assist from Jameel. Crestwood drained a trey and the Clipper responded with a free-throw, 56-50 with 1:07 remaining. After a Chester turn-over, junior Qadir Lowrie blocked a three-point attempt from the corner. Fareed walked to the free-throw line and knocked down both free throws for a 58-50 lead with 15.6 seconds left in the game.

Fareed Burton Jr led three Clippers in double figures with a game high 21 points. He also added 6 steals, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 assists. Freshman Kyree Womack joined him with 11 points and Karell Watkins had his customary double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Jameel Burton Jr and Isaiah Freeman were the final two Chester scorers with 5 and 2 points respectively. They each had 5 rebounds.