CHESTER 62, ST. JOSEPH'S PREP 53
St. Joseph's Prep coach Speedy Morris neatly summed up the experience of taking on Chester's explosive squad. "Once they see blood, they keep coming at you," he said. "They're like piranhas."
With a pair of bursts, one late in the second quarter and another near the end of the third, the Clippers downed the Hawks, 62-53, Tuesday night in a PIAA Class AAAA semifinal before a capacity crowd at Coatesville.
Rondae Jefferson and company may have literally smelled blood in this one. Prep sophomore forward Chris Clover, taking an elbow to the face, missed most of the first half with a bloody nose.
The Clippers, in moving closer to their third consecutive state title, used an 8-0 burst to take a 28-19 lead into the locker room.
Ahead by 31-25 in the third stanza, a 9-0 run that was highlighted by Jefferson's mid-court steal and dunk provided a 15-point cushion. Chester was ahead, 42-31, going into the last frame.
"We started playing defense and executing the right way," said Clippers boss Larry Yarbray, whose team overcame 13 turnovers.
Jefferson, bound for Arizona, was the catalyst with 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and two steals.
Said Jefferson of his five dishes: "I love to pass, make my teammates feel good. When they're scoring and they're happy, we're a better team."
Chester's Richard Granberry, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, netted 12 of his 14 points in the last 11 minutes. Early in the fourth quarter, his left-side power move gave the defending champs a 46-33 advantage.
In a rematch of last year's final, the Clippers (28-3) will battle District 1 rival Lower Merion, which ousted District 7's New Castle in the semis, for top honors at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Against the Prep, guards Conrad Chambers (10 points, six rebounds), Rashan DeJarnette (four assists, three boards), and Isaiah Warren (second-quarter trey) aided the cause. Chambers nailed two first-half threes.
Steve Vasturia paced the Hawks (24-6) with 19 points, including four treys, eight boards, and four assists. Fellow senior guard Miles Overton hit three bombs en route to 16 points. Clover (10 points in the last nine minutes) returned at the start of the second half.
"I thought we competed, played hard," Morris said. "We didn't make the shots when we had to. We lost to a better team. I have no problem with that."
Overall, the Prep shot 17 for 45 from the field (10 for 24 from three-point territory) and 9 for 13 from the line.
For the season, the Notre Dame-bound Vasturia averaged 20.5 points and drilled 64 threes. He was 133 for 151 (88.1 percent) from the line.
St. Joseph's Prep 12 7 12 22-53
Chester 15 13 14 20-62
SJP: Steve Vasturia 19, Chris Clover 10, Kyle Thompson 6, Miles Overton 16. Dan Nedbal 2.
C: Conrad Chambers 12, Darius Robinson 12, Rashan DeJarnette 2, Richard Granberry 14, Rondae Jefferson 18, James Kirksey 1, Isaiah Warren 3.