By Terry Thomas
The Clippers (4-1) missed on their final shot attempt and fall 65-66 to the Imhotep Panthers (3-0) at the Clip Joint. Tonight’s contest featured two of the top 5A teams in the state, Imhotep entered the contest ranked #1 and the Clippers ranked #4. The loss snaps a Chester 21-game winning streak at home. Their last loss at the Fred Pickett Gym was December 8, 2018 vs. Glasgow. (Thanks to Dave Burman for the previous stats).
The combination of a Chester starting slow both ends of the court resulted in their 10-19 deficit at the end of the 1st quarter. Jameel Burton Jr accounted for 6 of his 10 points in the period. The Clippers did a better job on the offensively spreading 17 second quarter points among four players but still were still missing defensive assignments. The Panthers used seven players to put up 16 points. Isaiah Freeman and Karell Watkins contributed 5 points apiece, Qadir Lowrie went 4 for 4 from the free-throw line and Fareed Burton Jr added 3 for the Clippers total. Chester trailed at intermission 27-35.
The Clippers scored the first 6 points of the third quarter trailing 33-35 at the 6:27 mark. The teams exchanged baskets over the next three plus minutes. Fareed Burton Jr stripped the Panther at mid-court and scored tying the score at 40 with 3:00 on the clock. The Clippers capped off the quarter with a 6-0 run and led 46-40 going into the final 8 minutes of play. Fareed scored 11 of his game high and season high 22 points in the period including knocking down 7 of 8 free throws. Lowrie connected on another four free-throws going 8 for 8 on the evening and finishing with 8 points. Freeman and Watkins each added a basket and coupled with an outstanding defensive stand which limited the Panthers to 5 third quarter points.
With basketball being a game of runs, it was the Panthers turn to demonstrate why they are ranked #1 as they produced a 10-4 run to start the fourth tying the game at 50 with 6:10 on the clock. The game would be closely contested to the end with 3-times and 8 lead changes. The largest margin would be the Panthers four-point lead, 52-56, at the 4:25 mark. Freeman would connect on 1 of 2 free-throws and the Panthers called for a time-out leading 63-64 with 41 second remaining. Out of the time-out, Fareed would steal the end bound pass and score to give the Clippers the lead 65-64 with 39 seconds left. The Panthers responded with a basket and the Clippers walked the ball down courts with 17 second left. Fareed setup the offense and put up a shot that rimmed out with about 2 seconds on the clock. The ball fell to the ground and the game was over.
Four Clippers scored in double figures in the contest, F. Burton (22), Watkins (15), and J. Burton and Freeman each with 10. Watkins’s streak of double-doubles was snapped as he was only able to pull down 7 rebounds. Freeman joined him with 7 rebounds and the Burton cousins chimed in with 5 rebounds apiece.
Chester will return to Del Val League play on Tuesday, February 16th when they travel to the “Shoebox” on Essex Ave to take on the Penn Wood Patriots.