CHESTER -- The weight room really paid off for Donald Sims, who needed every bit of strength to dominate the boards and lead Chester to a 61-48 victory over Camden in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs on Friday.
Sims, a 6-5 center, muscled down a game-high 19 rebounds while scoring in double figures with 10 points. His work underneath was crucial in limiting a potent Bulldog squad to one shot on the defensive end.
"We go to the weight room every Sunday night," Sims said. "Hitting those weights helped me a lot tonight because they were grabbing me and pulling on my jersey while going up.
"It was a war on the inside, especially with all of the arm-swinging and elbow-throwing. But we had to play tough and make sure to box up," Sims said.
With Camden being limited to mostly one shot per possession in the fourth quarter, Chester capitalized with key perimeter shooting during a slowly-paced, half-court attack.
Chester coach Jason Smith said since the Bulldogs chose to pack the defense tight in a zone, the Cyclones were content to slow their attack and display patience for high-percentage shots. But with defenders sandwiched around Sims, Chester resorted to its perimeter attack.
None was bigger than Xavier Mayfield's 3-pointer before the half. Mayfield scored on the inside for a 25-19 Cyclone lead, but Camden countered with five straight to cut the Cyclone lead to one, 25-24. With the Bulldog crowd screaming with momentum, Chester chose to burn the final minute and wait for the last shot.
Following two Camden fouls, the Cyclones inbounded the ball with 3.4 seconds remaining. Mayfield caught the ball up high, shook a defender, and launched a deep 3-pointer while falling away. The shot swished the net, and more importantly, gave Chester momentum, 28-24, into halftime.
Sims took charge in the third with a jumper, offensive rebound and putback while being fouled, and then, another interior hoop following another offensive board. That gave Chester a 40-28 lead with 3:03 remaining in the third. Jemarcus McClinton scored on a reverse layup for a 44-32 Cyclone lead early in the fourth.
However, Camden got hot behind Jay Council. The Bulldog ace connected with three 3-pointers during a 16-6 run, which brought the Bulldogs to within two, 50-48, with 3:54 remaining.
Sims fed McClinton inside for a layup to break the Camden momentum. Cyclone guard Gene McCaskill made the defensive play of the game by drawing a charge on Sterling Council, who apparently scored on a jumper in the process. The shot was waved off, though, keeping Chester in control.
Chester then executed the delay offense to perfection and connected on 5-of-8 from the line to pull away for the 13-point win.
In addition to 10 points and 19 rebounds, Sims also was a defensive force with four blocked shots.
The Cyclones, 16-8, advances to third-round playoff action on Tuesday against Travelers Rest. Chester, a No. 2 seed, will serve as host.
Camden 13 11 6 18 -- 48
Chester 12 16 12 21 -- 61