READING - The "second five" has played a big part in Chester'sdominance this season.
Clippers boss Larry Yarbray confidently called on his reserves, most of whom would be starters elsewhere, and they delivered, as usual, in Wednesday night's PIAA Class AAAA semifinal versus Central Dauphin.
With 25 points and big-time energy coming off bench, the red-hot Clippers pulled away from the foul-plagued Rams in the third quarter and cruised to a 67-48 victory before an overflow crowd at the sauna-like Geigle Complex.
Shanier Cottman totaled eight points, six rebounds, and four steals; Zimir Geiger produced six second-quarter points and four boards; and Tymier Butler chipped in five points, three boards, and a steal.
The squad's other highly capable subs are Tavaune Griffin (four boards, blocked shot) and Rashan Dejarnette (first-half steal). Dennis Willis, coming on late, hit a three-pointer.
"All those guys are just like starters for us," Yarbray said. "They're always ready to go. When I go to my bench, it might be an improvement on what we have out there. Not many coaches can say that."
In an all-District 1 final, set for 8 p.m. Saturday at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center, the Clippers, seeking their second consecutive title, will take on Lower Merion.
"It should be a great game," said Yarbray, whose squad topped the Aces, 61-53, for the District 1 crown. "They're going to be up for the challenge, and so are we."
Against Central Dauphin, District 3's fifth-place qualifier, junior Rondae Jefferson, overcoming a slow start on offense, posted 15 points, 12 boards (four on offense), and four assists.
Chester (31-0) held Devin Thomas, a 6-foot-9 senior center and Wake Forest commit, to 11 points on 5-for-13 shooting.
Thomas (nine boards) was whistled for a technical foul, his fourth personal, with 3 minutes, 19 seconds left in the third quarter. From there, the Clippers, leading by 40-27 at the time, capitalized with a 7-0 spurt.
"Without him, that took their game and momentum down a lot," Jefferson said. "He's a big piece of their puzzle."
When Thomas returned early in the fourth frame, the Rams, who were hurt 19 turnovers, trailed by 53-32. "We stayed in attack mode while he was out," Yarbray said. "We had to take advantage of it."
Starters Darius Robinson (10 points, three assists, two steals), Richard Granberry (nine points, four boards, block), and Erikk[CQ] Wright (six first-half points) helped ignite the rout.
Central Dauphin (29-3) shot 15 for 52 from the field, including 6 for 20 from beyond the arc.
Notes: Chester had a 26-14 rebouding advantage (10-3 on the offensive end) in the first half)....The Clippers shot 25 for 57 from the field. They were 14 for 34 in the first half, and 11 for 23 in the second...Jefferson missed his first five field-goal attempts. His first points, on an inside bucket, came with 3:32 remaining in the second quarter....Three of Cottman's four steals came during a short third-quarter span....Chester was 15 for 32 from the charity stripe .
Central Dauphin 7 15 10 16-48
Chester 15 20 14 18-67
CD: Nick Seefeldt 4, Brian Laird 10, Devin Thomas 11, Ryan Beaver 6, Isaac Rossum 3, Tyler Napierala 5, Austin Mertz 2, Mike Gress 4, Joe Wilk 3.
C: Kareem Robinson 2, Darius Robinson 10, Richard Granberry 9, Erikk Wright 6, Rondae Jefferson 15, Tavaune Griffin 3, Shanier Cottman 8, Zimir Geiger 6, Tymier Butler 5, Dennis Willis 3.