Kehler on Hoops: Chester & Marple Newtown Advance To Class 5A Quarterfinals

Written by: on Saturday, March 12th, 2022



Chester overcame a 12 point third quarter deficit to defeat Archbishop Ryan 53-48, and Marple Newtown’s outside shooting propelled them to a 56-48 win over Mastery Charter North in a pair of PIAA Class 5A state championship tournament second round games on Friday night at Cardinal O’Hara.

Chester vs. Archbishop Ryan was the main event on this double bill, and it was a thrilling contest played before a full house of loud and enthusiastic fans, almost all of them rooting for Chester. Few high school basketball teams play in the same style year after year and decade after decade, but Chester certainly does. The hallmarks of Chester basketball, for just about forever, have been pressure defense and crashing the offensive board. How long have they played this way? At least since the early 1960s, maybe even longer. The thing about pressure defense is that its impact is cumulative. The longer the game goes, the more effective pressure defense is. Case in point: Chester’s win over Ryan on Friday night.

Ryan got off to a poor start in this game, committing turnovers in all of their first three possessions. Key elements of Chester’s strategy were clear right away. When Ryan got the ball down low to their outstanding 6′ 9″ sophomore Thomas Sorber, all Chester players in the vicinity collapsed on him, and, when Chester had the ball, they drove on Sorber to try to get him in foul trouble. That second stratagem didn’t work, as Sorber swatted away shot after shot, and he did not commit fouls in the process. As for Chester’s other aim, they were able to choke Ryan’s inside game for stretches of the contest. Chester, playing a man-to-man defense, also thwarted Ryan’s outside shooting, holding the Catholic League power to just one three pointer in the contest.

The game was close in the first quarter, with neither side leading by more than three points. Early in the second quarter, Ryan broke a 14-14 tie with a 10-0 run consisting of two free throws by Sorber, a floater by 6′ 4″ sophomore Darren Williams, a hoop inside by Sorber, a hook shot by 6′ 6″ sophomore Jaden Murray, and a dunk by Murray on a three-on-one fast break. That made it 24-14, Ryan, and Ryan led 26-18 at halftime. All was not well with Ryan, however, as they had committed seven turnovers in the second quarter and a total of 11 miscues in the first half.

Midway through the third quarter, Ryan took their largest lead of the game, 12 points, when a three pointer by 6′ 1″ senior Luke Boyd made it 36-24, Ryan. At that point, the momentum shifted to Chester, as they went on a 16-1 run that extended into the fourth quarter. Chester’s pressure’s effectiveness increased in the third quarter, and Ryan committed 10 turnovers in the third frame. This fueled Chester’s 16-1 run, which began with 1:47 left in the third quarter and consisted of three free throws by 5′ 11″ senior Quadir Lowrie, a baseline drive plus a free throw by 6′ 3″ sophomore Kevin Rucker, a jumper by 6′ 5″ sophomore Larenzo Jerkins, another jumper by Jerkins, a hoop by Rucker, two free throws by 5′ 10″ sophomore Kyree Womack, a free throw by 6′ 3″ senior Isaiah Freeman, and a free throw by Womack. After that scoring outburst, Chester led 40-37 early in the final quarter. Ryan regained the lead, 41-40, on a pair of free throws by Murray and two free throws by 6′ 3″ senior Jalen Sneed. With 3:45 left in the game, Chester went up 42-41 on a floater by Womack. A minute later, Ryan took their final lead of the game, 43-42, on a fast break layup by Williams. Chester’s Womack responded with a banked three pointer, and Chester led 45-43, and Ryan would never get closer. Chester’s pressure disrupted Ryan’s offense in the final frame, and the raucous crowd was also a factor, as Ryan committed five turnovers in the fourth quarter.

Ryan out rebounded Chester 34 to 32, but Chester had 13 offensive rebounds. Chester committed 12 turnovers, and Ryan had 26 miscues. Chester was 14 of 21 from the free throw line, and Ryan was 13 of 19. Chester made three three pointers, two by Lowrie and one by Womack. Boyd made Ryan’s only three pointer of the game. There were four ties and eight lead changes.

Chester scoring: Kyree Womack 13, Larenzo Jerkins 11, Kevin Rucker 11, Isaiah Freeman 9, and Quadir Lowrie 9.

Archbishop Ryan scoring: Thomas Sorber 13, Jaden Murray 9, Jalen Sneed 8, Michael Paris 8, Luke Boyd 5, Darren Williams 4, and David Wise 1.

Archbishop Ryan 12 14 11 11-48
Chester 9 9 16 19-53

Chester, now 20-3, will play Shippensburg Area in the PIAA Class 5A quarterfinals on Tuesday at a place and time to be determined. Archbishop Ryan’s fine season concludes with an 18-8 record.

The game between Marple Newtown and Mastery Charter North was not as skillfully played as the Chester-Archbishop Ryan contest, but it was close all the way. Mastery Charter North wanted to run at every opportunity, while the slower the pace, the better for Marple Newtown. The officials allowed a lot of contact in this game, and only one free throw was attempted in the first half of the contest.

Mastery Charter North led for most of the first three quarters, but their largest margin was six points, and it never seemed that Marple Newtown was out of it. With 3:45 left in the game, a three pointer by freshman Matt Gardler gave Marple Newtown a 42-40 lead, and they led the rest of the way. Gardler was really the difference in the game; he was scoreless in the first half, but he made two three pointers in each of the final two frames.

Marple Newtown decisively out rebounded Mastery Charter North 31 to 23. Marple Newtown committed eight turnovers, and Mastery had six miscues. Marple Newtown was 12 of 15 from the stripe, while Mastery Charter North was four of six. Marple Newtown made eight three pointers in the game, four by Gardler, two by sophomore P. J. Esposito, one by 6′ 1″ senior Jordan Bochanski, and one by 5′ 9″ senior Justin DiBona. Mastery Charter North also made eight shots from behind the arc: three by 5′ 11″ senior Tracey Knight; two by senior Kharif Oliver; and one each by senior Thomas Brown, senior Cole Beasley, and 6′ 2″ senior Sincere Robinson. There were four ties and five lead changes.

Marple Newtown scoring: Matt Gardler 12, P. J. Esposito 12, Eric McKee 8, Justin DiBona 8, Jonny Small 6, Owen Mathes 5, Jordan Bochanski 3, and Matthew Cantwell 2.

Mastery Charter North scoring: Tracey Knight 13, Kharif Oliver 11, Cole Beasley 10, Thomas Brown 7, and Sincere Robinson 7.

Mastery Charter North 8 10 15 15-48
Marple Newtown 9 8 20 19-56

Marple Newtown, now 18-10, will play Imhotep Charter in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class 5A state championship tournament on Tuesday at a place and time to be determined. Mastery Charter North’s season concludes with a record of 14-6

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