York reigns over West Suburban Conference
Championships don't come every day, and York wasn't going to forgo a celebration Wednesday night at Addison Trail.
The Dukes didn't play their best girls basketball game of the season, but they did escape with a 51-49 victory over Proviso East in the West Suburban Conference first-place crossover game.
"It's so awesome because not only are we champions for our division but also the other division," York junior Sydney Molis said.
It was left to coach Brandon Collings to fret about the quality of the Silver Division-champion Dukes' play against the Gold Division's best and what it means for the IHSA playoffs.
"That was the sloppiest we've played. I think we had 20 balls go through our hands today. We had trouble catching the basketball. We had trouble protecting the basketball," he said.
Maybe it was nerves caused by playing in front of all the other teams in the conference or maybe it was because the Dukes (24-7) were without senior guard Sara Krissinger for a third straight game due to the flu.
"I was telling them there towards the end that if we're going to go into the playoffs and go as deep as we want to and think we may be able to, whatever happens in any games, we've got to be able to finish them out," Collings said. "We hit free throws when we needed to, we got stops when we needed to and that's what great teams do and we're hoping that we are that team."
York didn't take its first lead of the game until the 4:46 mark of the third quarter when a Sydney Fuglsang basket made the score 31-30.
Proviso East took its final lead of the game with 2:01 left in the fourth on a Kendra Hatley basket, but a Molis basket at 1:33 gave the Dukes the lead for good, 48-47.
"I think the first half we were sort of frazzled and we were nervous," Molis said, "but I think the second half we all just kind of came together and were like, we all need to calm down and play our normal game because the first half was not the way we usually play."
An Amaya Rufus steal with 32 seconds left led to a pair of Molis free throws to put the Dukes ahead 50-47, and the lead looked safe after Kaitlyn Kjome added a free throw with 10.5 seconds to go for a 4-point lead.
York let Proviso East's Jaliyah Davis through for a layup with 4.9 seconds left, making sure not to foul. But then they committed their 25th turnover of the game, allowing the Pirates (17-11) two final shots that both missed.
"I was just like I can't foul here because I can't let her get these free throws to get the game," Rufus said.
Molis led the Dukes with 13 points, all in the second half. Fuglsang, Kjome and Megan Juneman each added 9 points, and Carley Schwartz scored 8 off the bench.
Hatley led Proviso East with 17 points, and Davis added 15.
The Dukes begin postseason play next Tuesday against either Wheaton Warrenville South or Hoffman Estates at the Class 4A Schaumburg regional, hoping they got all the jitters out Wednesday.
"We didn't calm down," Collings said. "We snuck one out today, bottom line. They put some pressure on us. We didn't take care of the basketball. But we did enough in the end to win this game."