Oak Park takes York's best shot
Look no further than the free-throw line.
That was the difference in Oak Park-River Forest's 54-52 victory over York on Saturday that clinched the Huskies at least a share of the West Suburban Silver boys basketball title.
Oak Park made 20 of 23 attempts from the line, including 8 of 9 in the fourth quarter. York, meanwhile, made only 1 of 6 fourth-quarter free throws in front of a lively home crowd in Elmhurst.
It became an agonizing final stretch for the Dukes (23-4, 8-2). While they negated the margin from last month's 29-point January loss to the Huskies, the frustration remained.
York's Nate Shockey hit a 3-pointer with less than a second left to account for the final score.
"That was a tough one," said York coach Vince Doran, whose team still can get a share of the Silver title with wins over Proviso West and Hinsdale Central in addition to an Oak Park loss to Downers Grove North. "I'm really proud of our kids. They did what they've done all year. They put ourselves in a good position. It just didn't go down."
Oak Park (16-8, 10-1) burst to a 13-point second-quarter lead before the Dukes erased it with a 16-2 run. Erik Cohn's one-handed dunk gave York its biggest lead of 40-34 with 2:44 left in the third quarter.
"That was one of our focus points in the first five minutes, just come out and give them a nice good punch," said York senior Nick Kosich, who led the Dukes with 15 points. "You've got to give credit to them. They bounced right back from it."
John Milling's putback with 2:11 left in the fourth quarter tied the game at 48-48 but Chase Robinson answered with a go-ahead bucket. A Kosich free throw pulled the Dukes within 50-49 with 12.7 seconds left, but Robinson knocked down four straight from the line to keep the Huskies ahead.
"I practice free throws every day in practice," Robinson said. "I just calm down, breathe and knock them down."
Oak Park's Josh Smith scored 13 of his 15 points in the first quarter while Anthony Roberts had 14 points. Despite game-long foul trouble Sam Walsh managed 13 points for York.
"I wanted to come in with energy, lots of energy," Smith said. "Help the team out and knock down my open shots."