CHESTER 76, GREAT VALLEY 43
By late in the third quarter, the early eight-point deficit seemed like eons ago.
Chester, turning up the defensive heat, gained firm command of Tuesday night's PIAA District 1 Class AAAA semifinal playoff against Abington with a crushing 20-1 run.
"It all begins with our defense," Clippers senior guard Darius Robinson said after the Clippers blasted the turnover-plagued Ghosts, 76-43, at Temple's Liacouras Center. "When we get that going, everything else falls into place."
Abington jumped out to an 11-3 lead. "We've been starting out slow lately," Robinson said. "Our coach [Larry Yarbray] hates that. He gets on us about it."
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Robinson totaled 21 points, including three three-pointers, as top-seeded Chester moved closer to its third consecutive district championship. The Clippers will take on No. 2 Lower Merion at 9 p.m. Friday at Villanova's Pavilion.
"That's the game people expected and wanted," said Yarbray, whose squad bested Lower Merion, 61-53, in last year's district final. "Friday night will be a big night. We'll be ready."
Robinson shot 6 for 11 from the field (3 for 5 from beyond the arc) and 6 for 6 from the line.
Said Yarbray: "He broke his foot last summer. He didn't start playing until the second week of November. He's finally getting his legs, his wind. He's not just settling for jump shots."
Against the fifth-seeded Ghosts, senior swingman Rondae Jefferson produced 14 rebounds, 13 points, and four steals. Richard Granberry, a 6-7 forward, managed 10 points and nine boards.
Ahead by 32-31 in the third quarter, Chester (23-3) made it 52-31 in what seemed like an instant. Robinson and company forced eight turnovers in that frame.
"We really got up on them and started playing hard," Robinson said. "They started rushing things, throwing the ball away. It went just the way we wanted."
Overall, the Ghosts (21-5) shot 13 for 46 from the field and committed 19 turnovers. They managed only three field goals in the second half.
"Those guys (Chester) are big, they play hard, and they play every possession," Abington coach Charles Grasty said. "Chester is Chester. You have to limit your mistakes."
For the Clippers, James Kirksey chipped in nine points off the bench. His putback during the 20-1 explosion made it 44-31.
Sophomore swingman Matt Penecale and senior guard Jordan Simmons notched 14 and 12 points, respectively, for Abington.
Of Chester's 47 rebounds, 21 came on the offensive glass.
Abington 13 11 8 11-43
Chester 12 16 24 24-76
A: Anthony Durham 7, Jiere Morrisey 4, Matt Penecale 14, Jordan Simmons 12, Anthony Lee 3, Mark Bond 2, Jordan Neely 1.
C: Conrad Chambers 2, Darius Robinson 21, Rashan DeJarnette 8, Richard Granberry 10, Rondae Jefferson 13, James Kirksey 9, Khalil Williams 3, Isaiah Warren 3, Diamonte Reason 5, Mike Williams 2.