Rick O'Brien: Team of Year: Chester is the perfect choice

Chester's Larry Yarbray (center) is The Inquirer's boys' basketball coach of the year. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Chester's Larry Yarbray (center) is The Inquirer's boys' basketball coach of the year. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer (Chester's Larry Yarbray)

The 32-0 Clippers rolled through district and state playoffs, winning by an average of 31 points.

Posted: April 01, 2012

Chester won its record eighth PIAA state championship in no-doubt-about-it fashion, blitzing District 1 rival Lower Merion, 59-33, in the final at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center.

It was a fitting finale for the Clippers, who mostly dominated en route to a 32-0 season and their second straight Class AAAA title.

In the district and state playoffs, Larry Yarbray's squad, deep and athletic, won by an average of 31 points.

For producing its first perfect season, Chester is The Inquirer's Southeastern Pennsylvania boys' basketball team of the year.

The Del-Val League titlists have won 58 straight games. Their last setback was a 62-57 loss to Sanford (Del.) in December 2010. Only St. Anthony (N.J.), with 65 consecutive wins, has had a better run.

Chester ended up ranked No. 4 in the nation by USA Today, behind No. 3 St. Anthony, No. 2 Findlay College Prep (Nev.), and Oak Hill Academy (Va.).

Here are some other season-ending awards.

Coach of the year. For not allowing a single slipup, Yarbray gets the nod. In four seasons at the helm, the former Clippers assistant is 103-17 (.858 winning percentage).

In nonleague action, Yarbray guided the team to wins against state champs Constitution (Class A) and Imhotep Charter (AA), Hodgson Vo-Tech (Del.), Christ the King (N.Y.), Aquinas Institute (N.Y.), and Landstown (Va.).

Rookie of the year. Derrick Jones, a 6-foot-5 freshman forward, played a key role in Archbishop Carroll's drive to the Class AAA quarterfinals. In a second-round state triumph over Octorara, Jones (7.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.1 apg) delivered 15 points, 14 rebounds (5 on offense), and 4 blocks.

Sixth man of the year. La'Quan Coaxum, a 6-2 senior guard, consistently gave Class AAA champ Neumann-Goretti a boost on both ends of the floor. On Jan. 18, in a taut win at Father Judge, Coaxum scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half, and dished two assists.

Most missed. Because of a back injury, Neshaminy's Ryan Arcidiacono, a Villanova recruit, missed his entire senior season. Had he played and stayed on his junior-year pace, the 6-4 sharpshooter might have eclipsed the 2,000-point career mark.

His three-season numbers: 1,498 points, 449 boards, 378 assists, 178 steals, and 160 three-pointers.

Best long-range sniper. Upper Dublin's John Decamara, a senior guard, drilled 81 three-pointers in 23 appearances. He hit 132 treys over the last two seasons.

Best free-throw shooter. St. Joseph's Prep junior guard Steve Vasturia went 128 for 140 (91.4 percent) from the line. He was 84 for 92 (91.3) as a sophomore.

Best individual performance. On Jan. 1, Constitution's Savon Goodman ignited an 80-72 triumph over Cardozo (N.Y.) with a school-record 46 points and 18 rebounds. He shot 18 for 22 from the floor, including nine dunks.

Best game I. Neumann-Goretti needed overtime to turn back St. Joe's Prep, 59-57, at the Palestra and capture its fourth straight Catholic League crown.

Best game II. In a District 1 Class AAAA quarterfinal, Wissahickon handled Central Bucks West - in sauna-like conditions - in double overtime, 60-56.

Best slam. In the third quarter of a PIAA Class A semifinal win against Math, Civics, and Sciences, Goodman threw down a posterizing dunk over a helpless defender.

Best turnaround. After a 9-13 season, Abington, spurred by junior guard Anthony Durham, went 20-8 and advanced to the District 1 Class AAAA semifinals.

Contact Rick O'Brien

at robrien@phillynews.com

or @ozoneinq on Twitter.

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