A history to shed. A history to build. Such were the dual burdens Chester High faced as it hit double overtime in 1983 during an opening-round state-tournament basketball game against visiting Carlisle.
Aware that the program had lost in its first seven PIAA state championship games, the Clippers felt they could reverse that trend. But first, they would need to survive that first-round game.
As it happened, the Clippers would win in double overtime, then eliminate Penncrest, Williamsport, Reading and McKeesport to finally bring a state championship to Chester.
The slump over, Chester would continue to build a reputation as the most dominant PIAA big-school program, winning another seven state championships.
So it was Friday at Neumann College where history would challenge the 1983 Clippers again. And exactly as it was 37 years earlier, Chester would be forced into double overtime of its first-round game in the mythical Delco Madness tournament designed to determine the greatest team in Delaware County history.
But as it did in ’83, the deep Clippers found a way to win, outlasting 2019 Haverford School, 79-74.
That being the exact score of that turning-point victory over Carlisle, it reflected a day of history. Matching the point total of Jeff Lebo in 1983, the Fords’ Jameer Nelson Jr. poured in 31 points. That included a 3-pointer from the top of the key to send the game into overtime tied at 61, all to the obvious delight of his father, Chester High legend and eventual NBA All-Star Jameer Nelson, rocking a Haverford School cap.
Chester needed a buzzer-beater of its own at the end of the first overtime, Theo Williams tipping in a missed shot with a tenth of a second showing for a 72-72 tie. But in the second OT, the Clippers showed why they are considered among the deepest teams in program history, eventually putting an end to what had been a 28-0 Fords season.
Darryl Green matched his Carlisle game-high of 24 points, Williams added 17 and the Clippers advanced to the Elite Eight, where Sunday they will face the second-seeded Darby-Colwyn Rams for a spot in the Final Four.
History could be building again.
In other first-round games Friday:
No. 2 DARBY-COLWYN (1963) 70, No. 15 BONNER (1983) 63 >> The Rams extended their winning streak to 51 despite 39 points from the Friars’ Rodney Blake. Playing for the first time with a 3-point line, D-C was 12-for-20 from deep. Harold Booker tabbed 20 points and Charles Coleman added 16 for the Rams.
No. 6 PENN WOOD (2009) 88, No. 11 HAVERFORD (1958) 74 >> Convinced they were under-seeded, the state-champion Patriots grabbed a 25-point halftime lead and held off the Fords, who’d entered with a refusal-to-quit reputation. Aaron Brown poured 26 points for 29-4 Penn Wood. Ed “Reds” McIlmoyle delivered 14 points for the 25-4 Fords.
No. 5 CHESTER (2005) 77, No. 12 DARBY-COLWYN (1972) 62 >> Fred Pickett’s decision to challenge his Clippers to a national-level schedule continued to show results in a start-to-finish triumph. Darrin Govens had a triple-double with 16 points, 11 steals and 10 assists. Noel Wilmore shot 8-for-8 from deep on his way to 30 points. Arnold Coleman scored 23 for D-C.
No. 8 CARROLL (2009) 80, No. 9 CHESTER (1967) 75 >> Chester resident D.J. Irving was less than neighborly with 21 points and the Patriots became the only Catholic League team to reach the Elite Eight. Eddie Swain saved 10 of his 14 points for the final three minutes but the rallying Clippers ran out of time.
No. 14 DARBY TOWNSHIP (1967) 61, No. 3 CHESTER (2008) 60 >> It was Delco Madness indeed when Leroy Eldridge swished a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the opposite foul line at Villanova’s Finneran Pavilion. A video replay showed the shot left Eldridge’s hand in time. For the stunned Clippers, who strangely were only 2.5-point favorites, Karon Burton and Nasir Robinson scored 22 apiece.
No. 4 CHESTER (1989) 90, No. 13 YEADON (1953) 73 >> The Clippers jumped to a 19-1 lead and cruised. Keith Wood delivered 26 points and Zain Shaw added 20. For Yeadon, Fred Cohen supplied 15 points and 18 rebounds.
No. 1 CHESTER (2012) 84, No. 16 CHRISTIAN ACADEMY (1992) 70 >> Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 27 points, including all 11 in a decisive fourth-quarter run that finally put the pesky Crusaders away. Kevin Sareyka had 16 for TCA, including the first six of the game to temporarily quiet the enormous Chester crowd at Widener.
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