To win this game, a great defense had to become even greater in the fourth quarter.
Oak Park's boys basketball team somehow kicked it up that extra notch.
The Huskies' late lockdown led them to a 43-39 win over West Suburban Silver rival York in Thursday's Class 4A Schaumburg sectional semifinals.
Third-seeded Oak Park (20-9), advancing to its first sectional final since 1992, faces top-seeded Proviso East (27-3) in Friday's title game. Second-seeded York bows out after claiming its first regional title since 2006.
"They did a good job in the fourth quarter switching up defenses," said York senior guard David Cohn, who ended a four-year varsity career with a game-high 16 points. "We knew it'd be a good game. Obviously, we wanted to be on the other side, but that didn't happen."
A three-point play by Stanley Roberts in the final seconds of the third quarter put York (22-8) ahead 30-27, but Oak Park responded at the start of the fourth with a three-point play by Erick Locke and a 3-pointer by Alex Gustafson. After Locke's steal and basket gave the Huskies a 37-32 lead, their defensive intensity picked up even more.
Oak Park held York without a field goal for the first 7:38 of the fourth quarter as the Dukes missed their first 10 shots in the period.
"We just stayed together as a team and didn't let the mishaps of the first three quarters get to us," said Locke, who scored 11 of his team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter. "The shots we were missing were good shots. They just weren't falling. I was able to get going and we got a lot of buckets with our defense."
Down 3 points with just less than a minute left, York missed a 3-pointer. Cohn's 3-pointer -- the Dukes' only field goal of the quarter -- narrowed the deficit to 41-39 with 22 seconds left.
Split free throws by Oak Park, putting the score at 42-39, gave life to the Dukes, but another missed 3-pointer quickly sent the Huskies back to the line with 3.6 seconds left. Locke split a pair of free throws to seal the win.
"It just goes that way sometimes," said York coach Vince Doran. "A play here or there and it could have been a different story. But give Oak Park credit. They played really well."
This was the third and rubber game between teams that finished tied for second in the Silver. Oak Park built its largest lead of 19-11 in the second quarter, but Cohn scored 6 points during an 8-0 run that knotted the score at 19 heading to the break.
Frank Toohey and Roberts each scored 8 points for York, while Jason Gant tallied 9 points for Oak Park.
"We know each other so well, especially David Cohn's been up on varsity for four years and he's been so tough to guard," said Oak Park coach Matt Maloney. "It's really hard when you come into a game for a third time trying to shut down one of the best players in the state. And they knew our personnel the same exact way, so we knew it was going to be a dogfight on the defensive end."
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