PROSPECT PARK >> The last seven days seemed to be never-ending for members of the Chester High boys basketball team, who were burning from their District One Class AAAA finals loss to Plymouth Whitemarsh.
Promptly motivated, the Clippers (21-7) came out ready for Saturday’s state tournament opener at Interboro High against Hempfield, District Three’s sixth-place team. Some things went better for coach Larry Yarbray’s charges than others as they held off the Black Knights, 55-46.
“Good teams can win (when they don’t play well),” Yarbray said. “We missed foul shots (10 of 22), and did some other things. But we never lost our focus on defense.
“We try to make sure no team scores more than 12 points in a quarter against us. And that team got 46 points. It’s a win, and you’re always happy when you win (at this time of the season) and have practice Monday.”
Nine of the 11 players Yarbray used scored at least two points, led by junior Jamar Sudan (12 points, seven rebounds) and senior Deshawn Hinson (10 points). Senior guard Khaleeq Campbell chipped in with nine points and three assists, and Stanley Davis got eight points, six rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals.
“It was about defense and rebounding today,” Sudan said. “My job was to try to stop (Hempfield senior Connor Moffatt). Each day our practices were intense. We worked as hard as we could getting ready for this game.”
Thanks to Sudan’s attention, Moffatt finished with 18 points but did not get a field goal in the first and fourth periods.
The Clippers scored the first six points of the second half, and when Davis hit a 3-point shot with 3:17 left in the third period, Chester’s lead had reached 12 points.
The visiting Black Knights, who recently knocked off the McCaskey team that had defeated Chester earlier in the season, refused to fold. They made adjustments to their defense and relied on sophomore Ryan Moffatt, who scored nine of his 15 points in the final eight minutes. His 3-point field goal with 2:40 to play cut Chester’s advantage to 50-45.
The teams traded foul shots before Chester’s Hinson took advantage of a Hempfield offensive foul to drop in a layup for the Clippers.
“That was a well-disciplined team we played,” Yarbray said. “They were patient and there were times when they got to the basket. But we’re coming out of here with a win, and we’ll take it.”
Campbell said he and his teammates had a rough time accepting the way the district tournament ended, and noted that the Clippers, who made 29 turnovers in their loss to Plymouth Whitemarsh, had only 12 turnovers against Hempfield.
“That game we lost was our wake-up call,” he said. “We knew we had to play harder today, and the things we did that cost us that game were things we couldn’t keep doing. We have to be unselfish. We can’t play any other way.
“My job is to make sure our players get going and keep their intensity high. We worked hard at practice this week, and now we have to keep working hard for the next game.”