By Pete Schnatz
In the postgame tranquility beneath the Liacouras Center Tuesday night, Stanley Davis required only a matter-of-fact inflection.
“Chester is back,” the senior guard said, minutes after spearheading Chester’s 74-62 triumph over Ridley in a District One Class AAAA semifinal.
Its return to the district’s elite after a one-year sabbatical is without question. And it’s fitting that one of the longest-entrenched members of the group provides the welcoming party for what the Clippers hope is a championship reintroduction.
No. 9 seed Chester will chase its 25th District One title Friday night at Temple University against No. 2 Plymouth Whitemarsh. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.
The rankings and records seem to indicate a favorite. But drill down to the teams’ cores and you may find those figures deceiving.
Since Jan. 1, Chester (20-6) has fewer losses, winning 18 of its last 19. Only the Clippers boast four double-digit postseason wins, none a particularly close scrape. Plymouth Whitemarsh (24-2), with its four-point survival against Academy Park in the second round and its one-possession revenge on Central Bucks West in the semis, can’t stake such a claim.
Their semifinal advancements contrasted sharply. Where PW suffocated Lower Merion and put them away at the free throw line in a ragged 53-42 win, Chester sailed past Ridley, never allowing the Green Raiders closer than eight points in the final 14 minutes.
The teams’ history is weighty. Plymouth Whitemarsh, which last won districts with the John Salmons-led 1998 squad, has lost in the final three times since, including last season to Abington. It dropped the final in 2010 (in overtime to Penn Wood, which it then avenged in the PIAA final) and in 2007 to Chester, 70-62.