Hoops: Chester turns back Lower Merion, 60-46

CHESTER 60, LOWER MERION 46

Another dazzling third-quarter surge paved the way for Chester’s third consecutive PIAA District 1 Class AAAA basketball championship.

Against second-seeded Lower Merion, the top-seeded Clippers seized command after a back-and-forth first half with a 16-3 burst, and easily downed the Aces, 60-46, in Friday night’s final Villanova’s Pavilion.

Chester, which claimed its 10th district crown in the last 12 seasons and 22d overall, did the same to Abington in Tuesday’s semifinal round. In that one, a 20-1 surge produced a 76-43 victory.

Down by 30-26 early in the third, Darius Robinson’s three-pointer and Rondae Jefferson’s putback started a 10-0 burst for the Clippers. Jefferson’s follow dunk provided a 42-33 advantage going into the last eight minutes.

With 15 points, senior guard Rashan DeJarnette sparked the defending state titlists. Jefferson, an Arizona commit, and sub James Kirksey each netted 13 points.

For Lower Merion, which was seeking its first district title since 1996, 6-foot-8 senior Yohanny Dalembert netted 12 points and B.J. Johnson, a senior swingman and Syracuse signee had 11.

Early in the fourth quarter, DeJarnette’s fastbreak layup put Chester ahead, 45-33. The Clippers twice led by 17 in the final stanza.

The Aces, who finished with a 43-35 rebounding advantage, coughed the ball up 17 times.

With Rashan DeJarnette scoring eight points, including two first-quarter treys, the Clippers were in front, 26-24, at inermission. James Kirksey, a reserve guard, was next in line with seven points.

Yohanny Dalembert (nine points) and B.J. Johnson (seven first-quarter points) spurred the Aces in the first half.

In the second quarter, Chester went the first 5 minutes, 26 seconds without scoring. Raheem Hall’s layup, off a feed from Baird Howland, gave the the Central League champs a 22-18 lead.

The Clippers answered with a 6-0 run that was highlighted by Kirksey’s three-point play and driving layup.

Spared by Kirksey and Conrad Chambers (five first-half assists), Chester was ahead, 18-16, after a back-and-forth first quarter.

There were six ties and five lead changes in the first 16 minutes. Lower Merion, which committed 11 turnovers, had a 19-10 rebounding advantage.

Both teams are bound for the state tournament, which begins next Saturday. Games are played at neutral sites.

Chester will take on Cumberland Valley, District 3’s seventh-place finisher, and Lower Merion, again placed in the western half of the bracket, will face Carlisle, District 3’s fifth-place qualifier.

In last year’s state final at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center, the Clippers easily handled the Aces, 59-33, to complete a 32-0 campaign.

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