By Matthew De George
For the better part of a month, Marquis Collins has watched, waited and hoped.
His left arm in a sling, the senior Chester guard has ridden a conflicted ride alongside his fellow Clippers. He landed awkwardly Jan. 28 against Glen Mills, exiting as the leading scorer on a 12-6 Chester team just starting to put the pieces together, building for what they hoped to be a lengthy postseason run.
He returned eight games — eight Chester wins — later as another weapon of uncertain potency for a team that had evolved so much, without him and because of him.
“There was days watching practice, watching games, where I almost shed a tear, watching my team going out in the wars and not being able to help them,” Collins said Friday night.
Then the conversation took a turn that even the most cocksure of players couldn’t avoid: Chester committed 28 turnovers in watching Plymouth Whitemarsh run away with a 68-57 win and the District One Class AAAA title. Chester Friday resembled, in coach Larry Yarbray’s estimation, the 2-5 team that started the season and has been elevated to a teaching aid in so many huddles since.
Collins was there in December. He wasn’t for most of the 12-game winning streak, an overlooked fact in considering Chester’s postseason brilliance. Then he reappeared Friday.
So was it him, he wondered?
“I feel like as a team, we were kind of off,” Collins said. “I only practiced twice before I came back today, so our chemistry wasn’t like when I was out when they had great momentum.
“I don’t want to blame it on me, but they kind of look for me to score and take over, and that messed up the chemistry.”
The answer to Collins’ self-aware question is a resounding, no. The 6-foot-7 Delaware State commit scored 12 points, including eight in the second quarter as the Clippers (21-7) threatened to pull away. He made his only shot attempt in the third quarter and sat to start the fourth as Yarbray opted for a defense-first lineup that failed to slow high-flying Xzavier Malone (29 points) and exacerbated the turnover predicament.