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Chester presses on for big win at Penn Wood

LANSDOWNE >> Leading by eight points as the clock ticked under two minutes, conventional wisdom might have favored Chester dropping its three-quarter-court press, on the road against a Penn Wood team with decent outside shooters.

But the calculus for coach Keith Taylor was simple: The press earned the Clippers that lead in the fourth quarter, so why not trust his team to execute and finish it out?

Chester’s Brian Randolph shoots as Penn Wood’s Vatangoe Donzo defends in the third quarter. Randolph scored a game-high 24 points as Chester notched a 57-46 win. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

The Clippers rewarded their coach’s confidence, holding Penn Wood down for a 57-46 Del Val League win. It’s Chester’s seventh consecutive victory and marked a sedate evening at the Shoebox in the first home game since Tuesday’s affair with Academy Park had to be suspended with a minute to play due to a brawl involving fans.

“We practice it and do it how we do it in practice, to slow the teams down,” guard Rahmee Gilbert said. “… We all take pride on defense. Bigs come in and play their part. Guards we come in and hold our defenders down.”

Taylor has predicated his turnaround of the Chester program on defense, and despite a 1-5 start to the season that looks increasingly like a hiccup, the Clippers’s stinginess is paying dividends. Chester (8-5, 4-0) has ratcheted up the defense, holding teams to 44.6 points per game during their winning streak. Save for the 62 points Bartram scored in an overtime affair, no other team has topped 52.

Thursday, they did it inside and out. Chester caused 14 Patriot turnovers and swatted away seven shots, six of the blocks provided by Zahmir Carroll. The denial of the easy path through the paint to Penn Wood led to a copious amount of jump shots that didn’t fall, Penn Wood shooting just 36.4 percent (16-for-44) from the field.

“I’m waiting for them to actually drive to the basket,” Carroll said of his rim defending. “And once he goes up, I just follow the ball.”

Chester had no such struggles hitting shots, thanks to Brian Randolph. The senior connected on six 3-pointers (on just eight attempts) to tally a game-high 24 points. With Penn Wood constantly collapsing to drivers in the lane, Clippers were regularly left open on the perimeter for catch-and-shoot chances that they duly capitalized on.

Penn Wood’s Chris Nash, left, puts a shot up in the fourth quarter against Chester’s Timothy Johnson. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

“Coach tells me to attack the basket, go to the rim and just look for the shooter on either time,” Gilbert said. “They’re always going to be open. And I expect them to knock it down every time I pass it.”

“We’ve just got to close out on all the shooter and make sure they don’t hit those shots again,” Penn Wood guard Chris Nash said. “If they keep hitting those shots, that’s the way they’re going to win.”

Isaiah Schmidt made two 3-pointers in the third quarter. Gilbert was effective with his mix of floaters and pull-up jumpers to score 11 points. And Michael Smith shook off a cold shooting night to tally 12 points, nine in the fourth, including 5-for-5 from the free-throw line. Randolph added nine rebounds.

Nash provided a spark in the first half with three 3-pointers, tallying 17 points. But he came up short on three fourth-quarter efforts from beyond the arc. Vantangoe Donzo added 17 points, including nine in the third quarter, to go with six rebounds and five blocks, but the offense eluded them when they needed it most.

Schmidt put Chester ahead for good, after three back-and-forth quarters, with a corner 3 (off one of Gilbert’s six assists) with 10 seconds left in the third stanza. A Randolph triple to open the fourth and a Carroll basket off a Smith dime opened up an eight-point edge at 43-35. Chester’s combination of veteran backcourt savvy – both with the ball and defending it – ensured the Patriots (6-5, 1-2) wouldn’t get much closer.

Also in the Del Val League:

Glen Mills 50, Interboro 48 >> Raheem Griggs scored 13 points and hit a layup with 30 seconds left in overtime to put Glen Mills head for good. Tarik Bey added 12 points, and Nique Simmons chipped in 11 for the Battlin’ Bulls (4-6, 2-2).

Carley Jones scored eight of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter to push the game to the extra session. Albert Pewa added 12 points for Interboro (1-13, 0-4).

Chichester 62, Academy Park 56 >> James Hendricks returned from injury to score 18 points, and DaQuan Granberry added 15 for the Eagles (10-4, 3-1).

Kamrohn Roundtree led Academy Park with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Shermik Lofton added nine points and 10 boards for the Knights (4-8, 1-2).

In the Ches-Mont:

Sun Valley 53, Unionville 51 >> Vinny DeAngelo scored 22 points, Marvin Freeman splashed home three 3-pointers for his 15 points and Shair Brown-Morris contributed 12 points as the Vanguards (9-4, 4-3) avenged an early season loss by beating the Indians at their place to extend their winning streak to seven games.

In nonleague action:

Christian Academy 71, Baptist Regional 43 >> Grant Sareyka scored 22 points and Tehron Phillips added 18 as the Crusaders (6-9) hit a season-high eight 3-pointers for a second straight win. Luke Sareyka added 10 points.

Octorara 61, Chester Charter School for the Arts 50 >> Devante Morris scored 15 points, Akeem Taylor added 14 points and Bruce Rodgers added 10 for the Sabers (3-11).

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