In basketball having several scoring options is a plus.
York's Frank Toohey is a strong one, a 6-foot-8 forward headed to Air Force. Out of a timeout with the score tied late against Metea Valley, the tall redhead wasn't open. Enter option No. 2.
Junior guard Jay Thomas dribbled into the lane and hit the runner for the winning basket with 9.6 seconds left in the Dukes' 55-51 semifinal victory over Metea Valley at Wheaton Warrenville South's second annual MLK Tournament on Monday. York (17-2) advanced to the title game against Bartlett.
"I just tried to go to the basket and distribute, but it was open so I just took the floater," Thomas said.
"At the end we definitely want to get to the rim," said 16-point scorer Toohey. "That's where we have our greatest chance of scoring with time running down."
York's Jack Heinle provided the opportunity by hassling Metea Valley's Marquell Oliver more than 40 feet after a Metea inbounds play, forcing a turnover and Dukes' ball with 19.6 seconds left.
"We were trying to feed Frank first, and if we didn't have that off the inbound for an easy look we were going to hold for a last one," said York coach Vince Doran. "(Thomas) went pretty quickly but he finished, so that was good."
Metea Valley (9-8) had led 51-46 with 3:11 left to play on Justin Kuehn's second consecutive 3-point basket. A three-point play and another deuce by Toohey then Thomas' beauty gave York a 53-51 lead.
Metea took its last timeout with 8.3 seconds left looking to at least draw even. The Mustangs inbounded the ball but just a few ticks later called for a timeout it didn't have, drawing a technical foul. York's Charlie Rose made the two free throws and the Dukes dribbled out the last 2.5 seconds.
"I thought it was our best overall game of the year," said Metea coach Bob Vozza. "They made some plays late where we didn't execute with the out-of-bounds play and again with their set. And then at the end there, unfortunately -- my mistake -- I took the ball out of our hands to possibly tie the game."
Coming in York had won each of its prior two games by at least 40 points. With Mark Konkle's good post defense on Toohey and cousins Marquell Oliver and Bryson Oliver penetrating, dishing and scoring, the Dukes' biggest lead was 43-34 early in the fourth quarter.
"Our team, we've always known we can compete at that level, and I think we put it together today," said Kuehn, who scored a personal-high 17 points. "As disappointing as it is to lose that game just competing like that, it felt really good. It was a team effort."
York's Thomas and Rose each scored 12 points. Marquell Oliver scored 15.