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District 1 6A playoffs: Karell Watkins scores 1,000th point as No. 4 Chester rolls past Haverford

02/19/2020, 12:00am EST
By Mitchell Gladstone

Senior Karell Watkins (above) scored has averaged a double-double in his junior season for Chester after playing in just one playoff game last year.

Mitchell Gladstone (@mpgladstone13)

CHESTER — It’s been a few years since they’ve updated the list of 1,000-point scorers inside Fred Pickett Jr. Gymnasium.

But the last one was a biggie — Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, now with the Brooklyn Nets, joined the club in 2013. A few others have joined him since, but their names haven't yet made it up.

Now, whenever Chester gets around to updating the list of an already impressive group, Karell Watkins will become a permanent part of Clipper history.

Watkins scored his 1,000th career point just before halftime Tuesday as Chester pulled away from Haverford for a 64-44 win, clinching a spot in the Class 6A state playoffs and yet another trip to the District 1 quarterfinals.

Watkins helped control things on the inside, logging a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds, while senior Faheem Berry did his damage from deep, scoring 16 points thanks to 5-of-8 shooting beyond the arc.

And as much as the milestone is a reflection on the player Watkins is now, it also points to how far the junior has come.

“He should be [area] player of the year, no doubt in my mind,” coach Keith Taylor said. “I don’t know how many guys there are averaging a double-double at his height. … He just comes in and goes about his business.”

It wasn’t Watkins who had things going from the get-go, though. Despite trailing 12-8 after the opening quarter, the visiting Fords were really able to dictate the tempo and keep a high-flying Clippers attack mostly under wraps.

That, however, didn’t last long.

Watkins got rolling with eight second-quarter points, and so too did Chester, which closed the half on an extended 18-7 run to take complete control of things on its home floor.

For Berry, seeing Watkins get the eight points he needed to hit the century mark was a relief — the Clippers guard was worried he’d jinxed things after telling friends Watkins was going to accomplish the feat a few games back.

But it was also special as the pair have grown up around the corner from one another and played together for several years.

“It’s chemistry,” Berry said. “We know how to play with one another. I was feeling him], and he was feeling me.”

And with Berry knocking down four triples before halftime, space really began to open for Watkins, who took advantage of a Haverford team that hadn’t faced this type of athleticism all season long.

“They thought he was going to shoot and then I could eat down low,” Watkins said. “We wanted to play full speed, running up and down the floor. That’s what we do. That’s Chester basketball, running non-stop.”

The Fords didn’t fade out of the locker room, getting a couple of timely triples from senior John Scheivert to hang within 15 entering the fourth quarter.

Taylor said he was surprised by the toughness and grit that Haverford showed, but was pleased by the fact that his team turned it over just six times against a defensive-minded Fords team.

“We stuck to our defensive gameplan and that worked for us,” Taylor added. “That caused us to get some easy baskets. Our big guys hit the boards and our guards made the right plays today.”

Perhaps what makes Watkins’ accomplishment all the more impressive — beyond the fact that he’s still got another season at Chester — is the fact that he’s a tweener. Watkins almost certainly profiles as a guard or wing at the next level, but with his consistent effort on the glass, you can easily not realize he’s just 6-foot-3.

Regardless, Watkins was plenty happy to get No. 1,000 out of the way, especially with the Clippers focused on much bigger goals ahead.

“It’s special because of the older folks who have reached that mark before me,” Watkins said.

And what comes next is a matchup with longtime rival Lower Merion Friday, when the No. 5 seed Aces visit fourth-seeded Chester.

It was just a year ago that the two teams met at this very same point, with Lower Merion eking out a 67-59 victory on its home floor.

Now, Chester is eager to return the favor and get back to a District 1 semifinal for the third time in the last five seasons.

“I know all the things that have gone on out there with the passing of Kobe,” Taylor said. “Our heart goes out to them, but we’re coming out here to play basketball — just like what Kobe would want — and that’s what we plan to do.”

By Quarter
Chester:   12 | 23 | 15 | 14 | 64

Haverford:   8 | 13 | 14 | 9 | 44 

Chester: 25-55 FG (6-18 3PT), 8-9 FT

Haverford: 16-39 FG (4-14 3PT), 8-12 FT

Chester: Watkins 20, Berry 16, Taylor 11, Carroll 9, Gilbert 4, Clark 2, Madison 2

Haverford: Higson 8, J. Seidman 8, Stuck 8, G. Seidman 6, Scheivert 6, Kraiza 5, Colucci 2, Dwight 1

District 1 6A Second Round Results

1) Methacton 66, 16) Council Rock South 41
8) Pennridge 55, 24) North Penn 41
4) Chester 64, 13) Haverford High 44
5) Lower Merion 63, 12) Central Bucks East 48
18) Downingtown East 55, 2) Garnet Valley 50
7) Bensalem 48, 10) Spring-Ford 45
3) Cheltenham 83, 19) Upper Darby 54
6) Coatesville 77, 22) Plymouth-Whitemarsh 60


District 1 6A Quarterfinals (Fri., Feb. 21)

1) Methacton vs. 8) Pennridge
4) Chester vs. 5) Lower Merion

7) Bensalem vs. 18) Downingtown East
3) Cheltenham vs. 6) Coatesville


District 1 6A Playbacks (Fri., Feb. 21)

16) CR South vs. 24) North Penn
12) CB East vs. 13) Haverford High 

2) Garnet Valley vs. 10) Spring-Ford
19) Upper Darby vs. 22) Plymouth-Whitemarsh

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