Class AAAA First Round
Chester (1-1, 22-5) vs. Carlisle (3-7, 18-8)
Site: Coatesville High School
Time: Saturday, 4:30
Coaches: Chester – Larry Yarbray (6th season) Carlisle – Andre Anderson (3rd season)
PIAA titles: Chester – 8 (1983, 1989, 1994, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2012). Carlisle – 4 (1985-1988).
How they got here: Chester entered as the second seed in District 1, after a three year run of dominance. Expectations were subdued for a four-peat, thanks to several graduations that left a hole offensively. But the Clippers rarely had an issue en route to their fourth straight title. They coasted through the first four rounds in the 32-team tournament before needing a 13-4 fourth quarter to topple No. 5 Pennsbury 52-49 to keep a strangle hold on District 1.
The Thundering Herd, on the other hand, found themselves in a corner. Carlisle lost consecutive games, including a heartbreaker to division rival Cumberland Valley, to wind up in the seventh-place game. In a matchup of similar skill sets, against Reading, the Herd won the track meet.
Key players: Chester – Tyrell Sturdivant (Sr., 6-8, F, 15.4 ppg), Mahir Johnson (Sr., 6-2, G, 19.4 ppg), Marquis Collins. Carlisle – Jordan Dockens (Sr., 6-3, G/F, 17.3 ppg), J.D. Hughes (Sr., 6-6, F, 11.2 ppg), Deshawn Millington (Fr., 6-0, G, 10.2 ppg).
Breakdown: If this were any other year Chester would far and away be the favorite. But the Clippers aren’t quite the dominant District 1 force of years past. Or at least they weren’t expected to be. That being said, by no means are the Herd a favorite. District 1 puts out elite talent and Chester has that in Tyrell Sturdivant, a low post nightmare the likes of which Carlisle has probably not seen in quite a while. They have an unconventional five in J.D. Hughes who poses a threat as a long-range shooter and a lanky body for attacking the glass. But Sturdivant has a physical presence that Carlisle will be hard-pressed to match. Jordan Dockens and Deshawn Millington present a challenge for the Clippers defensively, but if reports are true from Philly, the Clippers are just as dangerous as ever after shedding the underdog role (a rarity for them) and reestablishing themselves as a new-look threat in the state.