With a 132-24 record over the last five seasons, with a seventh large-schools PIAA state championship added to its robust trophy case last year, with a No. 17 national ranking by ESPNHS, and with seven key rotation players returning, Chester is where all roads lead.
Larry Yarbray, entering his fourth year as coach with a 71-17 record, has a team that can go 13 players deep, including three returning starters in swingman Rondae Jefferson (6-5, Jr.) and forwards Erikk Wright (6-3, Sr.) - who led the team with 22 points in the state final - and Richard Granbury (6-5, Jr.).
Tymier Butler (6-4, Sr.) is also back and will be a key contributor for a Clippers team that enters with a 26-game win streak and hasn't lost since Dec. 30, 2010.
Lamon Church and DeQuann Walker graduated from a team that went 31-1 last season, but Chester will continue to play aggressive, pressure basketball. The Clippers will use their boundless athleticism to frazzle teams in the full court.
"I call it 94 feet of chaos," Yarbray said.
Elsewhere, a Penn Wood program that reached the state semifinals or better in each of the last three seasons (including a title in 2009) appears depleted. Gone are standouts Shawn Oakman, now a defensive end at Penn State, and Aaron Brown, who averaged 20.5 points and 7.2 boards last year and is at West Virginia.
The Patriots will be guard-oriented. Senior guard Malcolm Richardson will be the team's leader. Junior guards Jerry Price and Tyree Bynum also will start. Penn Wood will need contributions from senior Corey Foster, as well.
"A lot of people don't expect us to have a good season, but we do. And that's a good thing," Patriots coach Clyde Jones said.
Glen Mills is a bit of a sleeper. Chester is anything but.
"We don't want to end up like the [Philadelphia] Eagles," Yarbray said. "Saying you have a Dream Team and then you end up out of it."
- Evan Burgos