Forgive the York boys basketball team for maybe feeling like it managed to escape the Hinsdale Central gym Friday night.
The Dukes won 53-49 to improve to 10-5 overall and 2-2 in the tough West Suburban Silver, but it wasn't easy, though it looked like it would be early on.
York cruised out to a 22-11 halftime lead thanks in part to a 3-2 zone, but then had to survive a Hinsdale Central defense that toughened considerably coming out of the halftime locker room, along with an aerial assault that translated to seven 3-point baskets in the second half -- two apiece coming from a pair of reserves, senior Everett Eck and junior Justin Bradshaw.
In fact the Red Devils cut the deficit to just 2 points twice in the fourth quarter but couldn't quite get over the hump.
The reason? York went 11 for 13 from the line in the final three minutes to claim the victory. Conversely, Hinsdale Central (4-10, 2-2) went just 2 for 10 for the entire contest.
"It's always tough in the Silver, it doesn't matter who you're playing," York coach Vince Doran said. "These are meat-grinder-type games that come down to a possession here or there. We get up 15 pretty early in the third and I never felt safe."
Doran was referring to back-to-back 3s by senior Angelo Martucci and junior Erik Cohn in the first two minutes of the second half that gave the Dukes a seemingly comfortable 28-13 lead.
But hold everything. The Red Devils responded with a 13-4 run, punctuated by 3s from Eck and senior Trevor Hamilton. Suddenly, the score at the end of the third quarter was just 34-28.
They cut it to 37-35 with 4:52 left in the game, 42-40 after a 3 from Bradshaw and a layup off a steal on a botched York inbound pass at 2:09.
But then the free throws started falling for the Dukes. They went 9 for 11 in the final 1:41, including one on a three-point play by junior Nick Kosich, who added two more with 47.6 seconds left.
"We knew it was going to be a game of runs," said Kosich, who also led the Dukes with 15 points along with Cohn. "We handled them pretty well in the first half. We just had to come out and make some stops at the end and make our free throws."
Added Cohn, who made all 4 of his free throws: "It's the little things, and we did a great job stepping up with confidence to the line. We shoot free throws a lot every day at practice, we try to make it as game-like as possible and it showed on the court."
It was a tough-luck kind of night for the Red Devils, who were led in scoring by senior Matt Guglielmo with 8 points, though Hamilton and junior Charlie Lyne added 7.
"We did fight back," Hinsdale Central coach Nick Latorre said. "I thought we were passive in the first half and I thought it cost us. We talked about being aggressive against the zone, and in the first half, we weren't quite aggressive enough."