CHESTER >> When Larry Yarbray gathers his players in the preseason, there’s one message he invariably shares with the center-court congregation at Fred Pickett Memorial Gym.
The Chester program will succeed with a rotation of six players or eight or 10 or 14. The choice is up to his charges, and there will come a night when that last guy off the bench will make a big difference.
Tuesday’s 72-57 controlling of Academy Park, which clinched the Clippers at least a share of the Del Val title, wasn’t quite so dire. But with some of their prime candidates for offense unavailable, Yarbray was left looking for answers.
Jahmi Bailey-Green wasn’t the only one to respond, but he was the loudest. He compiled a career night, coming off the bench for 15 points on a nearly flawless 7-for-8 shooting.
With leading scorer Marquis Collins out with a shoulder injury and shooting guard Stanley Davis saddled with early foul trouble, someone needed to fill the backcourt void. That was Green, scoring in every quarter, including seven in the fourth.
“Our coach told us someone had to step up to fill in for what (Collins) was doing,” Bailey-Green said. “And I thought it was my job to be aggressive on both ends of the floor.”
Bailey-Green entered averaging 3.1 points per game this season. Tuesday was the first time in 64 career games that he scored in double-figures.
“Being that we’re playing through adversity, he helps a whole lot,” point guard Khaleeq Campbel said of Bailey-Green. “That lift that he gave us was the confidence that we needed. He gave it to us, and we congratulated him on that because he was a big help for the win.”
Then again, being one of the guys off the bench at Chester (14-6, 8-0) is a little different than most places. Fourteen players have appeared in at least 10 games this season, indicative of Yarbray’s desire to spread the minutes and his high standard of confidence required to earn varsity jersey. But only three players have played in all 20 games.
That group unquestionably contributed to the win. Jamar Sudan shook off a bout of foul trouble early in the third quarter to post a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Maurice Henry added seven points and eight boards. And Campbell directed the offense with his usual steadiness, scoring 13 points, 11 in the first half.
After Stokes and Temple miss, Jahmi Bailey-Green from Carter. after 3, Chester up 54-40 https://t.co/8RRXRbxj2A
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) February 3, 2016
But the win was about more than the stalwarts. Jamal Jones contributed two blocks, three assists, two steals and four rebounds. There was six big points by spot starter DeShawn Hinson, who had 16 in the first game of Collins’ absence Saturday, and four from Dymon Colbert. Even Shaquan Francis, a JV callup to compensate for Jordan Camper’s seven-game hiatus with a wrist injury, hit a put-back bucket and provided lane-filling minutes.
“If it’s an open man, it’s an open shot,” Campbell said. “If it’s an open shot, it’s a good shot. … We just shoot the ball with confidence.”
The confidence extends to the defensive end, where the length in Chester’s 2-3 zone forced Academy Park (14-6, 7-2) into low-percentage looks. The Knights shot just 3-for-21 from deep.
Jawan Collins scored 16 points, but it took 19 attempts on a frigid shooting night. DeAndray Covert and Nakim Stokes scored six points apiece, but they went 0-fer from beyond the arc and shot 5-for-26 from the field.
Even Khyree Temple, the Neumann-Goretti transfer who was born in West Philadelphia but spent seven years living and playing in Chester, needed 18 attempts to get to 17 points to go with 11 rebounds.
“It’s hard,” Temple said of the homecoming. “It was challenging. I had to work hard. I’m a freshman, so I had to work hard.”
Chester never relinquished control after leading by 10 at the half. They used mini runs, like a 6-0 spurt midway through the third and a 7-2 edge to start the fourth that put the game away.
Even with Davis, who finished with six points, and Campbell catching a rest at the end of the third into the fourth, the reserves weathered AP’s pressure enough to rob any late drama from the proceedings.
The road ahead for the Clippers promises to feature more challenges, more surely that it will include either Camper or Marquis Collins. So whether it’s Bailey-Green or someone else who steps to the fore the next time the Clippers are challenged, the same lessons and methods will apply.
“They’re the key players on our team some days and some nights,” Campbell said of the missing pair. “When they’re not in the game or they’re in foul trouble, we’ve got to look for the open man or the hot man if there is a hot man on the court at the time. …
“Everybody has to play up, whether it’s scoring or blocking a shot or getting a rebound or those little chippy plays, the loose balls and things like that.”
In the Del Val League:
Penn Wood 66, Interboro 23 >> Ryan Kelly scored 17 points, and Pernell Ghee added 15 for the Patriots (10-9, 4-4).
Josh Encarnacion led Interboro with eight points.
Chichester 48, Glen Mills 44 >> Eric Montanez scored 21 points, and Derrick Welles added eight of his 18 in the fourth to see Chi (13-7, 5-4) to the win.
Myron Sanders scored 17 points for the Battlin’ Bulls (5-14, 2-7).