By Christopher A. Vito
Outside the Fred J. Pickett Jr. Memorial Gym, they had loaded up a trophy case with each of their eight state-championship trophies. Inside the gym, they hung banners to represent all of those titles.
In case these youthful Clippers hadn’t noticed, they were being reminded here, there and everywhere — and not so subtly — of their program’s illustrious past.
“Every day,’ sophomore forward Jamar Sudan said, referring to Chester coach Larry Yarbray, “He reminds us every day.’
Chester eased into its up-tempo pace against Hatboro-Horsham, before routing the visiting Hatters, 56-35, in Friday night’s district opener. In doing so, the Clippers extended a piece of that history. They have won 69 consecutive district-playoff games at the Clip Joint, dating to the 1980-81 season. They also stretched their streak of opening-round, district-tournament wins to 35 years.
Those streaks began nearly two decades before even Chester’s oldest players were born, which means Chester High’s gym is steeped in playoff lore. And yet…
“We were looking forward to playing here,’ Hatboro-Horsham coach Ed Enoch said. “(The Clippers) had a lot to do with how bad we played. I’m not disappointed in my kids. It’s not often we get to play a team of their caliber. They play hard. I admire how hard they play. That’s heart.’
Sudan finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. Guard Keyonte Watkins, the team’s lone senior, had 11 points, five steals and four assists, and guard Marquis Collins paired 12 points with eight boards for Chester.