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Tomlin rises to occasion as Penncrest tips Chester

Penncrest guard Marquis Tomlin poses with the game MVP trophy after leading the Lions to a 47-46 win over Chester at the Pete and Jameer Nelson Classic Sunday. Tomlin scored 16 points, including the decisive 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left.

CHESTER — The options for Penncrest on the final possession of a one-score game have become streamlined in recent weeks. It’s one of the few benefits of three starters sitting out injured.

The plan, down two points with 30 seconds to play Sunday against Chester, wasn’t to have Isiah Rice dribble into a crowd and lose the ball. Nor was it to have leading scorer Malcolm Williams standing flat-footed 38 feet from the basket, more ready to foul if a Clipper emerged with the ball than to shoot if a Lion recovered it.

But like so much else in the Lions’ holiday break, when things haven’t gone to plan, they’ve found a way.

Marquis Tomlin buried a long 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds to play, sending Penncrest to a 47-46 win over Chester in the Pete and Jameer Nelson Classic at Widener University.

After falling to the court under pressure from Chester guard Rahmee Gilbert, Rice had the presence of mind to shovel the ball to Tomlin, standing two strides behind the arc. Tomlin’s triple splashed home, giving him a career-high 16 points and about as easy of a decision for game MVP honors as the three-day showcase has had.

“When (Rice) dove on the floor, I was going to call timeout,” Tomlin said. “But when passed me the ball, I had an open lane so I shot it. I just hoped for the best, and I made it.”

With Matt Arbogast (back) and Dylan Bittle (wrist) recently joining Gee Antonelli (foot) on the injured list, Penncrest’s players knew someone would have to step up to fill the void. And Tomlin was one of many volunteers Sunday.

Rice ran the point adeptly with six points. Aidan Carroll hit two triples, plus he knocked down three free throws in the final minute after being fouled behind the arc, tallying 11 points. Denzel Boyer grabbed nine rebounds.

All of that eased the pressure on Williams, the Lions’ leading scorer who provided 12 points within the flow of a team that was coming off a 54-28 humbling at the hands of West Chester East two days prior.

“The last game was terrible,” Williams said. “I didn’t get to sleep at all that night. And tonight coming into this game, we had a good practice the other day, everyone was stepping up and I had confidence coming into the game.”

“Teams all scout on Malcolm and go straight at Malcolm,” Tomlin said. “We tell Malcolm all the time that we’ll be wide open because he’s having three people on him all the time. We’ve got to play off him and find open space, and when we find open space, we get open jump shots.”

Tomlin shined in particular. He scored eight of the Lions’ 12 points in the third quarter. He hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth but came up short on a wide open jumper in front of the Penncrest bench with a minute to play that would’ve given Penncrest the lead. Offered a second chance, he didn’t miss. Penncrest (7-2) was 5-for-11 from 3-point land on the day.

Chester (4-4) did its damage primarily in the lane. Karell Watkins earned team MVP honors with 17 points and 12 rebounds. His putback of a Michael Smith miss with 54.4 seconds to play restored Chester’s largest lead of the day at four points, 45-41.

“It’s great because it takes a lot of pressure off of me coming off of last year being the top scorer,” Smith said of the sophomore Watkins. “So him picking up all the scoring takes a lot of pressure off me and I know I can go to him whenever I feel like it.”

Smith tallied 12 points, including three 3-pointers in the second half. Rahmaad DeJarnette, who scored eight points, got Chester going with a pair of jumpers in the second quarter, the Clippers trailing 11-4 in the teeth of a Penncrest 2-3 zone defense that effectively slowed the game down and forced the Clippers into jump shots.

Chester eventually got going, but they never created separation in the second half.

“It’s a matter of experience about the little things that win basketball games,” Smith said. “It’s always the little things that catch up to you in the end of a basketball game, like not rebounding or not getting a steal. It’s just one little thing that gets to you.”

Carroll answered Watkins’ second-chance bucket to get Penncrest within one in the final minute. Smith hit one of two at the line, and his half-court prayer at the buzzer found the rim but nothing else.

All that set up Tomlin’s heroics, though the junior guard is the first to point out how much credit his teammates deserve in setting up his star turn.

“It was a good team win,” Tomlin said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. We battled for each other and we stayed through it. I love all my teammates. We did it as a team.”

Also at the Pete and Jameer Nelson Classic:

Bonner & Prendergast 64, Plymouth Whitemarsh 57 >> In the battle of ACC-bound standouts, Isaiah Wong got the better of Naheem McLeod.

Wong, headed for the University of Miami, scored 25 points to keep the Friars (7-0) unbeaten. Tariq Ingraham added 16 points matched up in the post with the 7-foot-3 McLeod. The Florida State commit scored a team-high 19 points.

St. Joseph’s Prep 58, Sun Valley 44 >> Isaac Kennon scored 15 points and Vinny DeAngelo added 11, but the Vanguards (8-2) dropped a second game in as many day to Catholic League opposition.

Trevor Wall scored a game-high 26 points, and Brian Greatens added 10 for Prep.

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