Clippers and Colonials are well-matched

Posted: March 02, 2007

Since Plymouth Whitemarsh last reached a district final in 1998 (and won), Chester has been to an amazing seven title games, winning six.

However, when the teams meet tonight it won't be a case of David taking on Goliath. True, Chester has won five championships in a row. And, yes, this version of the Clippers is as talented as any of the preceding units.

But the Colonials are playing inspired basketball, winning 17 in a row since Chester outlasted them in double overtime back in December.

In the back-to-back years of 2004-05, PW was knocked each time from the semifinals by none other than Chester. Another semifinal loss to Lower Merion last year had the Colonials looking at a potential fourth straight exit when they faced the Aces again on Tuesday.

But over the hump PW went, winning, 61-53, and giving coach Jim Donofrio his first appearance in a final since being promoted from assistant for the 1998-99 season.

Records

* Plymouth Whitemarsh: 26-2.

* Chester: 23-5.

Coaches

* Plymouth Whitemarsh: Jim Donofrio.

* Chester: Fred Pickett.

How they got here

* Plymouth Whitemarsh: Beat Penn Wood, 50-29, in the first round; beat C.B. East, 66-46, in the second round; beat Pennsbury, 48-42, in the quarterfinals; beat Lower Merion, 61-53, in the semifinals.

* Chester: Beat Bishop Shanahan, 73-36, in the first round; beat Interboro, 68-51, in the second round; beat Ridley, 79-53, in the quarterfinals; beat Souderton, 85-57, in the semifinals.

Last time they met

On Dec. 29, Chester won in double overtime, 61-51, without the Pittsburgh-bound Nasir Robinson, who was nursing a knee injury.

Probable starters

* Plymouth Whitemarsh

Lance Wilson, 6-1, Sr., G

Marquise Boggs, 5-11, Sr., G

Mike Acquaviva, 6-0, Sr., G

Anthony Minor, 6-5, Sr., F

Greg Maugle, 6-8, Sr., C

* Chester

Karon Burton, 5-8, Jr., G

Micah Covert, 6-1, Sr., G

Nasir Robinson, 6-5, Jr., F

Rahlir Jefferson, 6-5, So., F

Russell Johnson, 6-6, Jr., F

Knockout punch

* Plymouth Whitemarsh: The Colonials play a vicious brand of team defense. And it's the Hartford-bound Minor (18 ppg.) who often occupies the toughie role. He's still a work in progress offensively. But when he gets cooking, the meal is served piping hot. Wilson is a savvy four-year starting point guard, while Boggs and Acquaviva are more than just role players.

* Chester: Robinson, committed to Pittsburgh, has battled knee woes all season, but when he's healthy he's as good as District 1 has got. He will drive and drive and drive to the hoop on anyone. Burton is a waterbug point guard and the emotional leader. Jefferson and Johnson are less heralded but no less talented.

Weaknesses

* Plymouth Whitemarsh: If the Colonials are in a halfcourt offense, there aren't many options when it comes to shot creators.

* Chester: The Clippers' defense has been less than stirring this season. Their foul shooting is sometimes hard to watch.

Analysis

Chester automatically has to be considered the outright favorite, right? Yes, but PW may be the team to match up physically with the Clippers. So while Chester can often outmuscle its opponents, the Colonials will take no such punishment. If Boggs can impede Burton's path, Robinson and company may have their usual dose of easy buckets cut in half. With all that written, it would be just flat-out stupid to pick against the Clippers in this game. Chester, 62-59.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com.

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