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Fourth-quarter dry spell dooms Chester against Bishop Shanahan

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PHILADELPHIA >> At one end of the floor, Bishop Shanahan coach Ken Doyle stared toward the scoreboard. He took one nervous glance, then another. Then one more for good measure.

Doyle watched and waited, and no doubt hoped the clock would tick just a bit more quickly with each of his looks skyward.

Kevin Dodds (10) and Tom Ford (32) of Bishop Shanahan battle Chester’s Karrell Watkins for a rebound in the second quarter of the Eagles’ 61-47 victory over the Clippers in the semifinals of the District 1 Class 5A tournament at Temple’s Liacouras Center. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

At the other end, Chester coach Keith Taylor shouted for one of his players to take a foul and, just maybe, breathe new life into his fading Clippers.

The dichotomy was obvious: One coach hoping the clock would speed up, and the other hoping more numbers would magically appear on the digital read-out.

Taylor did not get his wish as the third-seeded Clippers bowed to the second-seeded Eagles, 61-47, in the first game of a District 1 Class 5A semifinal doubleheader Wednesday night at Temple’s Liacouras Center.

“It got away from us,” Taylor said.

The Clippers (18-7) will host fourth-seeded Wissahickon Friday in the district’s third-place contest. They already had punched their ticket to the PIAA tournament for a third consecutive season; that much was never in question against Bishop Shanahan, which will take on defending champ Penncrest in Saturday’s championship game at the Liacouras Center (2 p.m.). The top-seeded Lions knocked off Wissahickon, 45-40.

But a few factors contributed to the Clippers’ untimely defeat — none more prescient than their inability to put the ball in the basket when it mattered most. Chester shot a paltry 2-for-15 in the fourth quarter. The Clippers committed six turnovers in the final frame, against only five points on their side of the ledger.

Sure, Chester opened the game by knocking down three of its first four attempts from beyond the arc. However, the Clippers fell victim to a bit of fool’s gold, believing their hot shooting would carry through the duration of the game. They attempted 22 long-range shots and made six—and converted only two in the second half.

“I felt as though we depended on the jump shot too much, instead of going inside,” Taylor said.

And Chester had every reason to dump the ball into the paint, especially in the second half. Bishop Shanahan center Kevin Dodds, for whom the Clippers simply had no answer, picked up three personal fouls before halftime. Untested by the Clippers at either end of the floor, Dodds manufactured what he later called “my best game.” He totaled 23 points on 10-for-13 shooting, to go with 14 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks.

PHOTO GALLERY: Chester vs. Bishop Shanahan

It didn’t take long for Dodds to comprehend the mismatch problems he could create against Chester, either.

“My first hook shot,” Dodds said. “It went in and I’m like, ‘All right, I’ve got this from here on out.’”

Brian Randolph (2) of Chester goes in for a basket against Bishop Shanahan Wednesday night. It wasn’t enough as the Eagles pulled away for a 61-47 victory over the Clippers in the District 1 Class 5A semifinals at Temple. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

Taylor, leaning against a concrete wall outside his team’s locker room, lamented Chester’s missed opportunities.

“Their big man (Dodds) had three fouls. Three,” Taylor said. “We should’ve attacked him more. And when we did, we didn’t get the fouls. That’s basketball. That’s the way it is.”

His list continued.

“We’ve got to finish,” the first-year coach said. “We’ve got to take care of the damn ball, which we didn’t do at all. And we’ve got to play smart down the stretch.”

The Clippers’ reliance on 3-point shots that weren’t falling led to their unraveling. Michael Smith and Brian Randolph admitted as much. After the game, the backcourt teammates pointed the finger at themselves more than anyone else.

Smith might have deserved a pass from the blame, though. He suited up less than 24 hours after visiting an area hospital with a 101-degree fever.

“I think it’s the flu,” said Smith, who went 3-for-11 for eight points.

Smith missed a chunk of the third and fourth quarters while rehydrating and eating orange slices. Chester’s offense fizzled while he rested on the bench. The Clippers, with 4:27 to go in the third, led 39-32. Bishop Shanahan scored 18 of the next 24 points.

Facing a growing deficit, the Clippers had no choice but to continue taking shots that refused to drop.

“(The Eagles) were leaving jumpshots open, so we took them,” said Randolph, who had 11 points and six assists.

“If we were going to lose,” said Rahmee Gilbert, “we knew we had to just keep shooting.”

So they did. And it cost them.

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