Short-handed York defeats Downers Grove North
Playing without leading scorer Nate Shockey, York coach Vince Doran told his players they could either pout and put their heads down or step up and take advantage of the opportunity at hand.
Lex Harrison heard that second part loud and clear Friday night and made the game's biggest play in the final minute. The junior leapt and grabbed an offensive rebound on a missed free throw and knocked down two subsequent free throws to seal a hard-fought 37-32 victory over Downers Grove North in West Suburban Conference Silver Division play.
Doran said Harrison has fallen victim to playing behind some talented players at his position a year ago but snatched his opportunity Friday night.
"He's a super-talented kid," Doran said of Harrison. "He took his opportunity and ran with it tonight. I thought that offensive rebound was a huge play at the time and really gave us the momentum back."
That offensive rebound with came off a missed free throw from Jeff Grace, who scored a team-high 11 points, with 40 seconds left in the game and the Dukes (24-3, 8-1) ahead 31-29.
Harrison, who finished with 9 points and 5 rebounds, said there was no way anyone else was coming down with that rebound had he been given the opportunity.
"That ball was mine," Harrison said. "I knew I was going to get position and there was no way I wasn't getting that ball. I just wanted to make a play for my team and I really think that summed up the game. We dominated them on the glass tonight, I thought. It wasn't always pretty at times, but the most important thing was the final score."
Shockey, who missed the game due to sickness, is averaging over 21 points a game and leads York in points, rebounds and steals per game, among other statistics. Fellow starters Jake Brandolino and Milo Mann also missed Friday's game due to sickness. Nick Hesch and Luke Malaga started in their place.
Doran knew the win wouldn't come easily against a battle-tested Downers Grove North (12-14, 5-5) but wouldn't have expected anything less in their league.
"That's what you get every night ... a grind-it-out battle from everyone," Doran said. "That's how most of our games have been this season ... I didn't think we necessarily played all that well tonight, but I thought we had great leadership and we made clutch, timely shots when we needed them."
The Trojans gave themselves a chance, despite allowing Harrison's offensive board.
After hitting a 3-pointer to get to that 31-29 deficit, Downers North's Nate Demos got another look for a lead from the top of the key. His long-range jumper did not find the bottom of the net, which was followed by Harrison's key sequence to seal the win.
"I thought we had opportunities and didn't take advantage of them," Trojans coach Jim Thomas said. "I thought we executed pretty well late in the game, aside from (Harrison's rebound), but that's high school basketball. You're not going to win many games scoring 32 points."
Jack Mielke led the Trojans with 10 points.
Though he did not specify a return for his standout senior guard, Doran did joke he had Shockey mop the gym floor after practice recently to say that he had "literally done it all for us this year."
York has a quick turnaround with Oak Park-River Forest on the road on Saturday.