Chester used a furious second-half run to down Imhotep, 56-36, in the Jameer/Pete Nelson Philly.com/Rally Classic on Wednesday night at Widener University.
In a game that included six lead changes and three ties, the Clippers outscored the Panthers, 35-16, in the latter two periods after holding a one-point halftime lead.
Chester forward Erikk Wright scored nine of his game-high 11 points in the third quarter, when he returned from first-half foul trouble.
Wright and 6-foot-7 Chester swingman Rondae Jefferson sat midway through the first quarter with two fouls each and did not return before halftime.
Chester (6-0), ranked No. 1 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, and fourth-ranked Imhotep (4-2) jockeyed for most of the opening two periods, which included three lead changes and two ties.
But once the Clippers got back their two best players, they took off. Jefferson and Wright knocked down back-to-back buckets (Wright added a free throw) at the 3-minute, 7-second mark of the third quarter to erase a one-point deficit and go up by 29-25. The Clippers didn't relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
Jefferson roared back and ran the floor for Chester. He posted 10 points, 11 rebounds, a block, and five assists - many of the no-look variety - and also slammed home several big dunks.
Wright chipped in five rebounds, as did forward Richard Granberry, who posted eight points.
Brandon Austin scored nine points for Imhotep. Khyree Wooten had nine as well, but struggled from the floor, hitting just 4 of 15 shots.
Overall, there were six lead changes. Once the Clippers got going in the second half, however, their lead ballooned. It reached as high as 20 points in the final minute.
Chester, the reigning PIAA Class AAAA state champion, has knocked off two fellow state champs in the past 12 days. The Clippers easily dispatched Class A champ Math, Civics & Sciences on Dec. 17 at Cheltenham. Imhotep, the three-time defending Public League champion, won its second Class AA title last season.
Imhotep hung tough for three quarters, showing a discipline and athleticism that Chester might not see again in in-state play for some time. Ultimately, the Panthers were more careless with the ball and unable to handle the sheer depth of Chester. The Clippers turned the ball over just 11 times, to Imhotep's 17.
Imhotep Charter 10 10 10 6 – 36
Chester 11 10 16 19 – 56
IC: Brandon Austin 9, Khyree Wooten 9, Tyheam Harmon 2, Greg Bennett 2, Kamani Jordan 7, Nigel Grant 3, Jalil Myers 4.
C: Kareem Robinson 4, Darius Robinson 4, Rondae Jefferson 10, Richard Granberry 8, Erikk Wright 11, Tymier Butler 8, Rashan Dejarnette 4, Shanier Cottman 1, Tavuane Griffin 6.