PROSPECT PARK >> The brief scouting report on Chester Charter School for the Arts, in its first season of PIAA competition, centers on two names. There’s leading scorer Akeem Taylor, who proved why against Interboro. And there’s 6-8 sophomore Tyler Howard.
But when Howard left Saturday’s game after the first quarter and departed the gym by halftime with an apparent upper-body injury, something in the Sabers’ approach would have to change. And freshman Timmy Evans knew it.
“I just had to step up because our big man was hurt, I guess,” Evans said. “So I just had to step up and help the team out.”
The forward promptly scored four of his eight points in a big fourth quarter to go with 12 rebounds as the Sabers held off the Bucs, 53-47, to sweep the teams’ home-and-home series this week.
A Sean DeShields steal turns into 2 for Akeem Taylor. He has 16 in the first quarter. CCSA leads Interboro 20-12. pic.twitter.com/rKykVGUETd
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) January 27, 2018
The final edge on the glass was a slight 37-36 for Chester Charter, but it seemed more lopsided, thanks to the efforts of Evans and company stretching possessions and creating second chances. It was particularly beneficial given a ghastly shooting night at the free-throw line, the Sabers clanging together a 3-for-16 effort.
On one such trip in the fourth, with the Sabers nursing a four-point edge, Devante Morris missed the front end of a one-and-one (CCSA came up empty on all three of its second-half one-and-ones). But Evans stormed in for the rebound and laid up and in. He was fouled and missed the free throw, but denying the Bucs a chance to trim to within one possession with three minutes to play proved demoralizing.
While neither team was a portrait of consistency, the Sabers (6-10) displayed the knack for big shots at key moments, particularly surprising given the team’s lack of a senior on the roster. The squad stocked with freshmen and sophomores still has managed to win four of five and five of seven.
Akeem Taylor set the tone with a torrid first quarter, pouring in 16 points. He scored all 20 of his points in the first half to fuel a 32-24 lead at the break. And while he didn’t score after the half, his quick start allowed his team to settle in.
“When they see my energy, I think they try to match my energy,” the sophomore said.
Sean DeShields was hit-or-miss from 3-point land, but sunk a huge triple on the first possession of the fourth to put CCSA up 43-35, just as Interboro (1-17) had begun to sneak back in.
DeShields finished with 11 points. Point guard Bruce Rodgers added eight points and six assists, while Morris chipped in eight points. Morris and DeShields executed several pretty passing plays in the lane to find each other open for easy buckets, and Rodgers spotted Evans for a lay-in in the fourth to restore a six-point edge at 47-41.
Evans’ work on the glass was tireless, even if it involved more dirty work than he was accustomed to.
“It’s just being more physical, helping my team out, grabbing the boards and playing a position I wasn’t really comfortable in but really stepping up,” the freshman said.
Carley Jones led Interboro’s comeback and provided the counterpoint on the boards. Jones scored nine of his game-high 24 points in the third quarter, the only frame in which the Bucs outscored the visitors. Jones, who added 15 rebounds, started a 6-2 spurt out of halftime to get Interboro back in touch, and his aggressiveness off the bounce started to open cracks in the 2-3 zone defense CCSA relied on.
“The coach prepared us for it,” Jones said. “We put two of our guards on top, two wings and one big in the middle. That’s how we broke it. Swing to the corner, and that’s how you break it. But other than that, it was tough to get through with three guards on the outside.”
Albert Pewa, who came off the bench instead of his usual starting role, added 10 points, including six in the fourth. Dom Souders hit a pair of first-half 3-pointers for the Bucs, who have just two wins in their last 78 games dating back to the 2014-15 season.
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