If you’re going to win your first District 1 Class 5A championship, you might as well do it in one of the most daunting gyms in the state of Pennsylvania.
West Chester Rustin faces that task head on Tuesday night when it heads to the Clip Joint to face the vaunted Chester Clippers, who have more state championship banners in the rafters than the Golden Knights will have starters on the floor.
Rustin coach Keith Cochran talked about what makes the Clippers so tough to play.
“Chester really loves to speed your game up,” Cochran said. “They love to get you going out of your offense and take quick shots. They want you to put up a lot of shots because they feel they can win the battle on the glass and get out and run. The key is to be patient and take good shots. They like to play a game where they get like 25 rebounds. To beat them you need a solid point guard and someone who is going to make good decisions. Turnovers are going to happen against them. You just cannot have too many of them.”
Chester is a well-rounded team, and the Clippers have cruised through the first two games of district play, beating Marple Newtown, 56-40, and blowing out Phoenixville, 73-40. The Clippers are 11-1 and are led by senior shooting guard Jameel Burton, who is on the Golden Knights’ radar as someone to try to contain. Burton is averaging 19.5 points per game this season.
“We just want to try to stay in front of him,” Cochran said. “You have to stay in front of Burton because he likes to go to the rim. We have to be willing to take charges. Chester likes to touch you so you have to be ready and willing to take a charge call.”
West Chester Rustin will be going to Chester with one of the best players in District 1 in Hofstra University commit Griffin Barrouk, who poured in 30 points in the Golden Knights’ 68-56 win over Unionville in the semifinal round.
Cochran said it is important for Barrouk to have a good game, but he will need a total team effort to down the vaunted Clippers.
“I know Griffin is up to the challenge of going to Chester,“ Cochran said. “But he has done a great job all season of getting all his teammates involved and getting them to play in a team concept. We are going to need something out of everybody to beat a team as good as Chester. It would mean everything for the program to win a district title. Since we started in 2006, this program has been all about winning championships, and Chester has always been in the way. Tuesday night we get a chance to win one for us.”