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PROSPECT PARK – A season of big steps for the Hempfield boys’ basketball team ended with a respectable fight against one of the state’s most storied programs.

Chester hung on for a 55-46 victory over Danny Walck’s Black Knights Saturday afternoon in a PIAA Class AAAA first-round battle at Interboro High School in Delaware County.

Hempfield (16-8), despite facing a handful of double-digit deficits, clawed to within four points (50-46) in the closing minutes before Larry Yarbray’s famed Clippers (21-7) stood firm.

“Just really proud,” Walck said of his Knights, the sixth seed out of District 3 who were making their first state appearance since 2010. “We came in against a team with a strong tradition with quite a few players, and I thought our kids executed our game plan. Just really proud of their effort.”

Chester, the District 1 runner-up, advances to meet the winner of Spring Grove vs. Spring-Ford (played later Saturday) in Wednesday’s second round.

Jamar Sudan, a 6-6 junior, paced the balanced Clippers with 12 points and nine rebounds. Deshawn Hinson, a 6-3 senior, added 10 points, and 5-8 senior point guard Khaleeq Campbell totaled nine points and six assists. Another senior, the 6-4 Stanley Davis, posted eight points and six assists.

“We knew it was a well-coached team, very disciplined, patient,” Yarbray said of Hempfield. “Weren’t too erratic against the press. They really didn’t turn it over. Showed toughness and got to the basket. They played hard.”

The Knights turned it over just nine times, though two of those came in the final minute after they’d pulled to within four points.

Connor Moffatt was terrific in his career finale, leading Hempfield with 18 points, four rebounds, five assists and four steals. Younger brother Ryan Moffatt, a sophomore, added 15 points and five rebounds, while junior Bryan Karl posted five points, seven rebounds and two blocks.

Will Blair, another senior, gave a strong effort off the bench with seven points and four rebounds.

The Knights enjoyed a 13-12 lead early in the second quarter, but Chester embarked on an 11-1 run to grab a lead they would keep.

The advantage was 25-19 at halftime and reached double digits several times in the second half, the largest being 36-24 after a Davis 3-pointer midway through the third.

Chester’s lead was 50-39 with 3:40 left, but Ryan Moffatt fueled a seven-point surge with a 3-pointer and layup to cut into that deficit.

Connor Moffatt’s free throw made it 50-46 with 1:18 left, and the Knights forced a Chester turnover on the ensuing possession.

But Hempfield soon turned it over on two straight possessions, and the Clippers did just enough damage at the free-throw line to clinch victory.

“I hope Connor and the seniors he’s leading realize the footprint they put on the program,” Walck said. “We’re in the first round of states. That’s a tremendous footprint. He’s the motor. I think you’ve seen the motor he showed today. He just laid it all out.

“We came here to win. We didn’t come here to keep it close. We didn’t come here to make it respectable. We came here to win. And I’m proud of them for the effort they gave.”

Morrow on Twitter: @RageAgainstGMo

BOX SCORE

Chester 55, Hempfield 46

HEMPFIELD (46)

Andrew Green 0-5 0-0 0, Ryan Moffatt 5-7 3-6 15, Connor Moffatt 6-12 5-9 18, Bryan Karl 2-8 1-2 5, Javon Mitchell 0-2 0-0 0, Will Blair 3-5 1-3 7, David Martin 0-6 1-2 1, Joey White 0-1 0-0 0. Totals — 16-46 11-22 46.

CHESTER (55)

Khaleeq Campbell 3-11 1-2 9, Stanley Davis 3-3 1-4 8, Deshawn Hinson 3-9 2-2 10, Jamar Sudan 4-5 4-8 12, Maurice Henry 0-0 2-2 2, Ahrod Carter 1-3 0-0 3, Jahmi Bailey-Green 0-0 0-0 0, Marquis Collins 2-5 0-2 5, Dymon Colbert 0-1 0-0 0, Jordan Camper 1-1 2-2 4, Jamal Jones 1-1 0-0 2. Totals — 18-39 12-22 55.

Hempfield _ 7 _ 12 _ 13 _ 14 _ — _ 46

Chester _ 9 _ 16 _ 14 _ 16 _ — _ 55

3-point goals — Hem 3-14 (R.Moffatt 2-3, C.Moffatt 1-4, Martin 0-1, Green 0-3, Karl 0-3); Che 7-22 (Campbell 2-7, Hinson 2-7, Davis 1-1, Carter 1-3, Collins 1-4).Rebounds – Hem 33 (Karl 7); Che 34 (Sudan 9). Assists – Hem 10 (C.Moffatt 5); Che 15 (Campbell 6, Davis 6). Steals – Hem 6 (C.Moffatt 4); Che 2 (Campbell 2).Blocks – Hem 2 (Karl 2); Che 9 (Jones 4). Turnovers – Hem 9; Che 10. Fouls – Hem 20; Che 18. Fouled out: Karl, Henry.

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