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PIAA Class AAAA: Uniontown pushed aside by Chester

Sunday, March 26, 2000

By Mike White, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

HERSHEY, Pa. -- Chester High School's cheerleaders made a lot of noise during timeouts last night, stomping in unison around the Hersheypark Arena court. Chester's players took over the stomping routine every time play resumed.

Chester flexed its muscles, and Uniontown went tumbling down Chocolate Avenue. The Clippers, a perennial power from suburban Philadelphia, stomped Uniontown, 73-48, in the PIAA Class AAAA championship game.

"I felt we would win, but not by this much," said Chester Coach Fred Pickett.

It was yet another example of eastern supremacy in big-time Pennsylvania basketball. It was the third year in a row a team from the east won the Class AAAA title by 20 points or more. Also, last night was the second-most lopsided game in the largest classification in the past 30 years. The only one more lopsided was the AAAA final in 1988 when Carlisle and Billy Owens crushed Central Catholic, 80-54.

Owens scored 52 points in that game 12 years ago. Chester didn't have anyone of Owens' caliber, but the Clippers (28-4) certainly had plenty of talent. They were too big, too quick and just too good for Uniontown, a WPIAL team that finished with a 25-4 record. The Raiders tried to run with Chester, but the Clippers were the ones moving in the fast lane.

"They have size and they have two good guards. They're an excellent team," said Uniontown Coach Dave Shuck, whose team was trying to become only the second from the WPIAL to win the Class AAAA title.

Uniontown's Carl Farrell, left, Travis Grady, center, and Dierre Jenkins, right, share their disappointment during the closing seconds of their team's 73-48 loss to Chester last night. (Bob Donaldson, Post-Gazette) 

Jameer Nelson, a 6-foot-1 junior guard who is headed to St. Joseph's University, led Chester with 19 points and 11 rebounds. He hit jump shots, made some fancy drives to the basket and also dished out some nice passes. Lateef Watts, a 6-3 senior forward, added 17 points and 11 rebounds. Senior forward Raymond Strickland had 12 points and junior point guard Naeem Scott 10. Chester outrebounded Uniontown, 58-37.

Uniontown's Terrance Vaughns, a sophomore guard, had four 3-pointers and 20 points. But Uniontown did not have another player in double figures. Senior guard Tink Truley, who averages 15 a game, scored only six points, making 2 of 6 field goals. Chester's full-court presses and tough man-to-man defense gave Truley fits.

"Chester did not have anybody that we were awed by," Shuck said. "It's just that we were not ready to play."

Shuck said his team was flat.

"It was almost like I had to beg our team to play," he said. "I couldn't get them to go out and go after anybody.

"I don't know if we were really ready to play. It seemed like we got caught up in a lot of things associated with this game."

Vaughns hit a 3-pointer to start the game, and Uniontown hung with Chester for most of the first quarter, trailing 12-9 with a little more than two minutes left. But Uniontown's Dierre Jenkins was called for a technical foul with 1:53 left, and Chester turned up the heat after that, grabbing an 18-11 lead at the end of the quarter.

"It looked like we were rolling, but it seemed like everything was downhill after that technical," Shuck said.

Uniontown's Nelson Jones also was hit with a technical in the second half.

"The officials wouldn't tell me what they did," Shuck said. "To me, you don't call technicals over little stuff in a game like this. My players don't talk on the court. They've never had a technical called on them all year."

Chester scored the first six points of the second quarter to take a 24-11 lead, and the Clippers held a 35-20 advantage at halftime.

Uniontown could never get the deficit under 10 points in the second half, and the Clippers pulled away in the fourth. Uniontown needed to shoot well to have a chance, but the Red Raiders made only 27 percent (16 of 60).

But after the game, Uniontown already was thinking about the future. Four of the Raiders' top eight players are sophomores.

"I thought we were maybe a year or so away from having a chance at getting here," Shuck said. "We didn't really expect to get here this year."

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