Chester’s road to the District One playoffs has not exactly been vintage Chester. Clippers squads losing three games in the Del Val (to three different teams, no less), those stumbling through three separate losing streaks, those losing not once, not twice, but three times by 30 points or more are few and far between in the program’s undeniably illustrious history.
Those struggles, though, will have to be squarely in the rearview mirror if the Clippers want to avoid missing the PIAA Tournament for just the second time in 34 seasons.
Confidence isn’t exactly on the side of the No. 11 seed Clippers (13-9), who have lost two straight. Their last outing was arguably the most disastrous of the bunch, being held to a season-low 25 points in a 66-25 shellacking at the hands of St. Anthony’s of New Jersey.
What Chester has shown this season are the telltale pitfalls of a young squad. There’s no denying the talent possessed by the likes of Marquis Collins and Jamar Sudan, but it’s been accompanied by an alarming tendency to disappear, for quarters, halves or games. They possess options in the backcourt, but too seldom do any of the youngsters beyond senior Keyonte Watkins step up and take control. (Beyond Watkins, the group of Ahrod Carter, Stanley Davis, Jahmi Bailey has just four double-figures scoring games; add in Sudan, and it’s still only 12, among four players). And the Clippers have a marked height advantage over many teams – Hatboro-Horsham included – but that only applies if they get touches for Maurice Henry, Jordan Camper and Juanir Moore in the flow of the offense, rather than relying on offense generated from missed shots.
Struggles are common to the Clippers’ first-round opponent, No. 22 Hatboro-Horsham (11-11), a team that endured a seven-game losing streak in the middle of the season.
There are few connections to the Hatters squad that made states two years ago, and this year’s squad is junior heavy. Senior guards Pat Haggerty and Walter Kimble anchor the backcourt, but much of the scoring will be provided by juniors Brian McEachern, Zeke Sloan, Kyle Katz and sophomore Clifton Moore. Though consistency has escaped the Hatters, they have proven an ability to land big wins, including hanging the only loss of the season on Class AAA top seed Lower Moreland.
The bright side for the Clippers? They are 7-0 all-time against Hatboro-Horsham in the postseason, including beating them in districts and states en route to the 2000 state title.