A York squad that has nary a player taller than 6-foot-2 in either the starting five or its eight-man rotation will need to excel in doing the little things on the basketball court this season.
If Monday night's 55-45 win over Rolling Meadows is any indication, those efforts may provide the Dukes plenty of success as York earned a season-opening victory in Monday's nightcap at the Ed Molitor Thanksgiving Classic at Palatine High School.
"It was great to see everyone out there hustling tonight," York coach Vince Doran said. "To see our guys diving for loose balls, being able to outrebound (23-17) a well-coached Rolling Meadows team is something that only builds confidence for us, especially when we get into (West Suburban) Silver play."
That confidence appeared first in the form of 10-4 run that unlocked a 16-all tie in the final 4:02 of the first half when an Erik Cohn trey gave York the lead for good. After Meadows closed within 19-18 on a Javonte Warrener hoop, a Nick Kosich 3 followed by a John Milling putback, folllowed by a Kosich feed to Cohn put York up 26-20 at the half.
Milling's second bucket -- a steal, drive and layup -- coupled with consecutive 3s by 5-10 sophomore Nate Shockey (11 points) had the Dukes up 34-20 a little over two minutes into the second half.
Kosich, a 6-1 junior who paced all scorers with 19 points, credits his team's success to strong defense. The Dukes held the Mustangs to just 37 percent shooting from the floor (17 of 45).
"It was definitely the difference," Kosich said. "We knew coming in that we would have to win the battle for those loose balls. We played a full game on defense by staying together out there."
Senior guard Angelo Martucci added 11 points for the Dukes, who next face Maine West at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Rolling Meadows was led in scoring by seniors Gio Carrillo and Ryan Carney with 9 points apiece. Next was 6-4 freshman Max Christie, who added 8 points and 6 rebounds in his debut.
For Meadows coach Kevin Katovich, his team's performance over the game's final seven minutes -- when it outscored York 16-8 -- that was encouraging.
"I'm very proud of our effort," Katovich said. "We have a very young, inexperienced team, and coming here to this tournament and playing teams like York and Jacobs only helps you to gain valuable experience. We kept fighting and clawing after things got away from us early in the third quarter. This game and this tournament provide you with such a huge learning opportunity."