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The Daily Times' boys basketball blog

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Chester High's Rondae Jefferson is the 2011-12 Daily Times Player of the Year.

Jefferson averaged 12.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.7 blocks and 2.6 steals per game for the Clippers (32-0), who won back-to-back PIAA Class AAAA titles and finished the season ranked No. 4 nationally by USA Today.

Three other notes on Jefferson: His 21 rebounds against Lower Merion in the District One Class AAAA championship established a school record. He totaled 14 double-doubles of points and rebounds. And he nearly had a quadruple-double in the regular-season finale, totaling 15 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists and eight steals.

Rounding out the 2011-12 All-Delco team are: Chester senior forward Erikk Wright; Glen Mills senior center Raheem Harvey; Penn Wood senior guard Malcolm Richardson; Ridley senior Shawn Church; and Archbishop Carroll junior guard Yosef Yacob.

Barring breaking news and college commitments, this likely will be the final blog post here for a while. Check back regularly, just to be sure, and thanks for your consistent readership this season. It's been a fun one.

(Times staff photo / ERIC HARTLINE)

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Saturday, March 24, 2012


STATE COLLEGE --- The Clippers accomplished what they came to Happy Valley for.

Chester defeated Lower Merion, 59-33, Saturday night to claim the PIAA Class AAAA crown. It's the school's eighth title overall, third in five years and second in a row.

Never had the Clippers (32-0) gone unbeaten en route to a state crown, nor had they ever posted back-to-back state title seasons. Until 2012.

For more on the big win, check out Sunday's Daily Times and for goodies like the videos below, a photo slideshow by Eric Hartline and all the coverage fit to print. That's all for now. Hope you enjoyed our coverage of the season. Thanks for stopping by.

(Times staff photo / ERIC HARTLINE)

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STATE COLLEGE -- Chester mayor John Linder will be the first to tell you he hasn't seen each of Chester High's boys basketball games this season.

"The last one I saw was the Norristown game (in the second round of the PIAA tournament)," Linder told me the other day. "But basketball is in our DNA. ... I don't have to see them every game to know how well they play and how well they're doing."

A 1965 graduate of Chester High, Linder made the trek with members of Chester city council to attend Saturday night's PIAA Class AAAA championship game against Lower Merion, when the nationally ranked Clippers will go for an undefeated season and their second consecutive state title.

When I asked Linder for a game prediction, he was initially reticent ... but then offered up this:

“For the balance, this is one of the best teams I've ever seen," Linder said. "You've got Rondae Jefferson. You've got the legacy with the Robinson boys (Darius, a junior, and Kareem, a senior). And the rest, I don't think there's any selfishness. They can get carried away, but they can reel it in. I don't think they're going to run away against Lower Merion. They'll win by five or six and get the game into the 70s. That's my prediction."

My prediction (a 71-62 win for Chester) appeared in Saturday's Daily Times, in addition to a full preview of the game. Hopefully you picked up a copy before checking it out on PCN tonight, or making the trip to Happy Valley.

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STATE COLLEGE --- This post comes courtesy Daily Times staffer Terry Toohey:

Of the 32 games Chester will have played after tonight's state final, 27 of them were against playoff teams. Also, the Clippers have played six schools that played in state finals. Below is a breakdown with where team finished in parentheses.

Regular Season
Chester 79, Coatesville 66 (4A Quarterfinalist)
Chester 70, Constitution 46 (1A Champ)
Chester 71, J.P. McCaskey 61 (PIAA Tournament qualifier)
Chester 64, Math Civics & Sciences 52 (A semifinalist)
Chester 69, Newark 41 (Lost in Delaware state final to 3x champ Sanford)
Chester 56, Imhotep Charter 36 (Class AA finalist)
Chester 60, Hodgson Vo-Tech 57 (Delaware semifinalist)
Chester 65, Christ The King (NY) 53 (NY CHSAA quarterfinalist)
Chester 66, Lansdown (Va.) 59 (Lost VHSL Region quarterfinals)
Chester 64, Academy Park 42
Chester 63, Interboro 32 (District One participant)
Chester 46, Aquinas Institute 43 (NY Class AA state runnerup)
Chester 66, Central Tech 40
Chester 69, Penn Wood 43 (District One participant)
Chester 66, Chichester 40
Chester 56, Gen Mills 45 (District One participant)
Chester 57, Academy Park 40
Chester 78, Interboro 40 (District One participant)
Chester 80, Penn Wood 57 (District One participant)
Chester 91, Chichester 53
Chester 74, Glen Mills 30 (District One participant)
Chester 74, Neptune 62 (NJ Group III state runnerup)
District One Tournament
Chester 65, Downingtown West 27
Chester 59, Methacton 31
Chester 81, Norristown 31
Chester 67, Wissahickon 52
Chester 61, Lower Merion 53
PIAA Tournament
Chester 86, J.P. McCaskey 43
Chester 72, Norristown 53
Chester 87, Coatesville 46
Chester 67, Central Dauphin 48
Chester vs. Lower Merion


The Daily Times staff is here in Happy Valley, and in full force.

Matt Smith, Jack McCaffery and I will be live-chatting throughout Chester's PIAA Class AAAA championship game against Lower Merion. Follow the live-chat here, beginning at 7:45 p.m. And Eric Hartline will be here chronicling the game in photo.

Here's our preview coverage of tonight's tilt:
Chester seeks perfection, back-to-back titles (Vito): Never has Chester finished the year unbeaten, nor have the Clippers won back-to-back titles. This is the Clippers' chance to do just that.
Chester hopes not to let history repeat itself (Toohey): Forty-five years ago, Chester had an undefeated team reach the state final ... and lose. Two from that 1967 team say how these Clippers can prevent that from happening this time around.

See you from the Bryce Jordan Center.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012


Wednesday night at Reading High's Geigle Complex, Chester defeated Central Dauphin, 67-48, to earn to the program's 17th state title-game appearance.

The Clippers will face Lower Merion Saturday at 8 p.m. in the PIAA Class AAAA championship at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center.

Here's the Daily Times' coverage of Chester's semifinal win:

Chester's Rondae Jefferson dribbles through traffic.

Chester's Diamonte Reason rejects a shot on a third-quarter fastbreak.

Chester's Darius Robinson tries to snag a steal.

Jefferson puts up a shot.

GAME STORY: Confident Chester one win away from repeat (Vito)
COLUMN: Familiar foe is all that stands in Chester's way (Jack McCaffery)
SIDEBAR: Chester's weakness will be on the line (Anthony SanFilippo)
NEXT UP: Lower Merion rolls past Erie Cathedral Prep and into final
Missed our in-game live chat? Click here for the full recap.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012


Though the definition of 'hurting' changes from person to person, Chester High's inability to make a good chunk of its free-throw attempts is hurting the Clippers.

Here's why: At one stretch of Saturday's PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal, the Clippers held a 17-point lead against Coatesville ... and that was while Chester had made only 2 of 10 foul shots.

Ultimately, Chester annihilated Coatesville, 87-46, to advance to Wednesday's PIAA semifinal against Central Dauphin. But the Clippers' penchant for missing free throws could hurt them down the road when, say, they're playing on a much-larger stage (State College, perhaps?) against a much-better opponent (let's say, oh, I don't know...Lower Merion?)

Chester finished its quarterfinal win over Coatesville by making 16 of 32 attempts at the foul line.

"Free throws are important, no matter if you’re hitting them or you’re not," said Chester junior Rondae Jefferson. "That's a basket you’ve got to make. It's free. There’s no pressure. You just have to take your time and knock it down. I wouldn't say that. I feel like we’ve got to knock them down no matter what. Honestly, it's maturity. It's focus and concentration at the free-throw line."

For the season, Chester --- as a team --- is shooting somewhere in the ballpark of 60 percent from the charity stripe. (Best I can do for now. My stat-keeping is a little backed up.)

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Chester will face Central Dauphin Wednesday night for the right to advance to the PIAA Class AAAA championship game.

The state semifinal, at Reading High School's Geigle Complex, tips off at 7:30 p.m.

As for tickets, they can be purchased at Chester High's athletic office Monday and Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m. Chester AD Randy Leggette said adult tickets will cost $8 and student tickets will run you $4.

This game presents two unique challenges for the Clippers:
1. Unfamiliar foe. Chester has not seen Central Dauphin this season, unlike their first three state-tournament opponents. (The Clippers met J.P. McCaskey and Coatesville in the regular season, and Norristown in the District One tourney.)
2. Lengthy commute. Chester will have to drive an hour, 17 minutes and 58 miles to Reading Wednesday. Their previous drives were to Norristown High (46 minutes, 27 miles) and Coatesville (45 minutes, 33 miles).

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Three more to go.

Chester needs to win three more games to successfully defend its PIAA Class AAAA crown. Next up on the docket: Coatesville.

The Clippers (29-0) will face the Raiders Saturday in a PIAA quarterfinal game tentatively slated for 3 p.m. at Norristown High School. (Those details are according to Chester High sources and are pending PIAA approval.)

Per Chester AD Randy Leggette, tickets to the game can be purchased at the high school athletic office Thursday and Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. either day.

Chester defeated visiting Coatesville, 79-66, Dec. 9 on the first night of the season. Darius Robinson scored 19 points, Shanier Cottman dropped 12, Erikk Wright had 11 and Richard Granberry totaled 10.

The Clippers last played the Raiders in the PIAA tournament in the semifinal round of the 2002-03 season. Chester won the game, 61-55, before falling to State College in overtime of the championship game.

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The time, date and location are set for Archbishop Carroll's PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal.

The Patriots (20-7) will face Hampton (24-4), the runner-up from District Seven, at 7 p.m. Friday at Chambersburg High School.

For those unfamiliar with Chambersburg, that's roughly a 2-hour, 30-minute drive from this neck of the woods.

Friday's game will be Carroll's third appearance in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals in four seasons. The Patriots are 1-1 in quarterfinal games, having won one in 2008-09 en route to earning the state crown and dropping one a season later.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Six local players made the roster for the All-Star Labor Classic, a showcase game for seniors with the proceeds benefiting United Cerebral Palsy of Philadelphia.

The game, to be played April 2 at Upper Dublin High School at 4 p.m., pits City stars against Suburban stars. Below is the full roster:


Monday, March 12, 2012


If you haven't been paying attention, Archbishop Carroll and Chester will continue their postseasons Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Here's where, when and against whom:

TUESDAY: Archbishop Carroll vs. Octorara, Coatesville H.S., 7:30
WEDNESDAY: Chester vs. Norristown, Coatesville H.S., 7

Tickets to Chester's second-round game are available at the high school's athletic office today, from 3 to 7 p.m. They will not be available for purchase gameday. (Sorry, Carroll fans, I do not have information for ticket presale for your team.)


If you're a Chester High hoops aficionado, you had to appreciate the atmosphere at Norristown High School Saturday.

The stands dotted with fans in orange and black T-shirts, it was a distinct home-game feel for the Clippers, the nation's fourth-best team. It seemed as though everyone who's anyone came out to the game. Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (Temple junior forward, 2009 Chester All-Delco, 2008 state champion), Nasir Robinson (Pitt senior forward, 2007-08 Chester All-Delco, 2008 state champion) and D.J. Irving (Boston U sophomore guard, 2009 Archbishop Carroll All-Delco, 2009 state champion, Chester native) were among the fans in attendance.

You can imagine even more familiar faces will turn out as the Clippers continue their quest for their second consecutive PIAA Class AAAA championship, and their eighth state title overall.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012


Another game, another (convincing) win. But don't ever accuse Chester High of failing to put on a show.

Chester got a highlight-reel slam in the final minute of Saturday's blowout win, an 86-43 defeat of J.P. McCaskey in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAAA tournament. Junior Diamonte Reason, who's developed a reputation as one of the Clippers' high-flying dunk artists, threw down a one-handed slam off a feed from Darrell Nicholson. Needless to say, it was the exclamation point on Chester's rout.

By the way, it's worth mentioning that Reason spent the season with Chester's junior-varsity team and earned a call-up only at the start of the postseason.

"Diamonte always says, 'I learn from the best,' and I'm proud of him," Chester senior Erikk Wright said. "I know he's talking about me, because I do a lot of dunking in practice. But it could be any of our bigs.

"Diamonte, he's got another year left, and a lot of catching up to do, but he gets out of the gym. If you throw it up there, he'll go get it."

Chester will face Norristown Wednesday in the second round of the PIAA tournament, at a site and time to be determined.

(Video by Daily Times staff writer Dennis Deitch)

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Friday, March 9, 2012


Archbishop Carroll knocked off Trinity, 63-40, Friday night at Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pa., in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA tournament.

Senior Alec Stavetski torched the District Three runner-up Shamrocks for a career-best 28 points, on 7-for-13 shooting and 12-for-14 from the free-throw line. Carroll (19-7) draws Octorara, a double-overtime winner Friday, in a second-round state game Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.

Here's more from Stavetski after the win:

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In 2010, it was D.J. Irving's time to shine. In 2011, all eyes were affixed to Juan'ya Green. Tonight, when Archbishop Carroll opens the PIAA Class AAA tournament against Trinity, Yosef Yacob knows this could be his year to take top billing.

“When I was a freshman, we made it to the third round and lost. And last year, we made it to the first round and lost,” Yacob said the other day, when Carroll won District 12's third-place game. “So I'm excited to actually go far being one of the bigger players on the team. I've never made it far in states as one of the key players. I'm really excited to get onto the floor and start winning.”

Yacob, who averages 14 points per game to go along with a keen eye for knocking down 3-pointers, has become the focal point of Carroll's offense. When he's not driving the lane and attacking the rim, he's able to convert from long range or at the free-throw line. (He's a 75-percent shooter at the stripe.)

A junior shooting guard, Yacob has a pair of Division I offers, from Rider and Albany, and said he counts five others as “interested.” They are Princeton, Akron, Delaware, Niagara and Drexel.

So now that the Patriots are in states, the pressure is on for Yacob. And being that he's seen Irving, a star at Boston University, and Green, a standout freshman at Niagara, handle the duties on the state stage, Yacob knows what to do.

“I feel like I should be a leader on the floor – not even just in scoring, but in defense, boxing out and not being lazy,” Yacob said. “If I'm lazy, they're all going to be lazy. It's extra work for me, but if I want to be (viewed as) a leader, I have to do it. That's what I'm supposed to do anyway.”

Added Carroll point guard Isaiah Warren: “I play my role and I try to set Yosef up. He's a good shooter and I like to make him look good. If I have a jumpshot or a layup, I'll take it. But if Yosef has a shot, I try to get him the ball.”

(Times staff photo / ROBERT J. GURECKI)

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Thursday, March 8, 2012


Chester coach Larry Yarbray (pictured, with Rondae Jefferson) said he's known Steve 'Bird' Powell for what seems like forever, their relationship renewed in the four seasons Yarbray has served as the man in charge of the Clippers.

"We've always been in contact, with summer leagues and whatnot," Yarbray said of Powell, a Chester native and the coach of District Three's J.P. McCaskey. "He's a good dude from the East side of the city, where my father's from."

Powell, a link to Chester's past, and Yarbray, a link to Chester's present, will collide Saturday in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAAA tournament. The game at 3 p.m. tips off at Norristown High School.

Chester defeated McCaskey, 71-61, in the second game of the Clippers' season -- their 17th in the last 19 tries against the Red Tornado.

“This is their championship, this is their measuring stick," Yarbray said of McCaskey's second crack at the Clippers, who are ranked fourth nationally. "That was our second game of the season. From that point, things change. People settle into the games and settle into their roles. This should be an interesting game."

For more on Powell, pick up Friday's Daily Times. And I'll have a preview of the game in Saturday's paper, too.

(Times staff photo / ROBERT J. GURECKI)

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Monday, March 5, 2012


He hoisted shot, after shot, after shot … but none went in.

That's how it goes some nights for Alec Stavetski, Archbishop Carroll's senior sharp-shooter. Stavetski went 0-for-11, including 0-for-7 from 3-point range, against Philadelphia Electrical Charter Feb. 29, when Carroll clinched District 12's No. 3 seed in the upcoming PIAA Class AAA tournament.

Carroll (18-7) faces Trinity Friday night at 6:30 p.m. at Milton Hershey School.

It's not as though Stavetski had hands in his face on every attempt. It just wasn't his night, which is why Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk isn't worried about his leading scorer – especially with a nine-day lag between districts and states.

“If it was someone that I didn't feel was a mentally strong player and couldn't rebound from this, yes, I'd be worried,” Romanczuk said. “But Alec has played for us and, now, started for us for two years. He's the kind of kid who would miss four shots and take the fifth shot as if he had made the previous four. His confidence is pretty stable.”

Romanczuk said he expected Stavetski in the gym in the days that followed the PEC win, but only because “that's the way he is. He'd be in there even if he went 11-for-11.” The Patriots (18-7) will need Stavetski if they plan on advancing past their first-round game Friday, March 9.

“He'll be fine. He's really confident,” Carroll senior Pat Finnegan said of Stavetski. “He knows we go to him and he knows we have to go to him if we're going to win in the state tournament.”

(Photo courtesy

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Saturday, March 3, 2012


Archbishop Carroll, the third-seeded team from District 12, will face Trinity, the runner-up in District Three, in a PIAA Class AAA opening-round game Friday, March 9, at a site and time to be determined.

Trinity (23-4) lost to Berks Catholic Friday night, 56-49, in the District Three Class AAA championship game, despite a big effort from Brad Wesner (pictured). The guard shot 10-for-17 from the floor for a game-best 26 points.

Archbishop Carroll (18-7) defeated Philadelphia Electrical Charter, 48-37, Wednesday night in the District 12 third-place game, behind 19 points from Yosef Yacob.

(Photo courtesy Harrisburg Patriot-News)

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The day after Chester's big win over Lower Merion, in the District One Class AAAA championship game, here's another glimpse of the action through the lens of Daily Times staff photographer Robert J. Gurecki:

Chester's Darius Robinson drives the lane for a second-quarter layup.

Chester's Rondae Jefferson draws a blocking foul against Lower Merion's Justin McFadden.

Lower Merion's Yohanny Dalembert goes up for a shot contested by Chester forwards Rondae Jefferson and Erikk Wright.

Chester's Shanier Cottman takes a bit of his district-championship medal.

Chester coach Larry Yarbray puts a district-title medal around the neck of Rondae Jefferson.

Chester's Erikk Wright puts on display the Clippers' district-championship trophy.

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Chester did it again.

The top-seeded Clippers used a superb outing from Rondae Jefferson to defeat second-seeded Lower Merion, 61-53, Friday night to claim the District One Class AAAA championship -- the program's 21st district crown.

The Daily Times sports staff was in full force at the game, with Matt Smith giving us a recap of what coach Larry Yarbray's reserves -- like Shanier Cottman, pictured -- mean to the success of the Clippers (27-0), who have won 53 straight games.

Meanwhile, columnist Jack McCaffery details just how dominant Chester's defense was, in limiting Lower Merion to 53 points, holding its leading scorer, B.J. Johnson, to 2-for-15 shooting, and forcing the Aces into 23 turnovers.

And then there was Jefferson, who was all over the map. The junior forward/point guard had 13 points, 21 rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocked shots in 32 minutes. He was exceptional when the Clippers needed him most.


Chester (27-0) will face J.P. McCaskey (22-7), District 3's seventh seed, in the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA tournament, which begins Saturday, March 10. The Clippers should have footage of their familiar foe, a team they schedule annually. Chester defeated McCaskey, 71-61, on the road Dec. 13.

Tickets to the game will be available at Chester High's athletic office Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 3 to 7 p.m. each night.

(Times staff photo / ROBERT J. GURECKI)

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Thursday, March 1, 2012


A by-the-numbers breakdown of Friday night's District One Class AAAA championship game, between two of the state's most-storied programs -- Chester and Lower Merion:

ChesterLower Merion
2011 Records26-025-2
Current Win Streak5219
District Titles2015
Last District title20111996
PIAA titles76
PIAA Final Fours2512

ALSO: Pick up Friday's Daily Times for a preview to get you ready for the big game, which tips off at Villanova at 9 p.m. And one more thing... Tickets to the game are available for purchase tonight from 3-7 p.m. and Friday from 1-3 p.m. at Chester High's athletic office.

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