York finally gets better of Oak Park
A high school basketball regional title is something to be proud of accomplishing.
But for the York boys basketball team, Friday's 74-56 Class 4A regional final victory on its home court over Oak Park-River Forest was even sweeter.
First, the Dukes, seeded third in the Proviso West sectional, finally beat the sixth-seeded Huskies on their third try. Oak Park had beaten York twice during regular season West Suburban Silver play.
Secondly, chances to win a regional title on one's home court don't happen very often.
"We came out focused. This is the playoffs. We were not going to let them win. We wanted to win a regional on our home court," senior Erik Cohn said.
Next for York (29-4) is a 7 p.m. Wednesday semifinal against Whitney Young in the Proviso West sectional. The second-seeded Dolphins won their own regional, beating Lane Tech 58-49.
Cohn, who was presented a plaque before the game for reaching 1,000 varsity points, was one of four Dukes to score in double digits with 15. Teammates Nick Kosich and Sam Walsh each scored a game-high 16 points and Jeff Grace added 12.
The Huskies (18-10) started off strong with a 12-6 lead after the opening eight minutes on 5-of-14 shooting from the field while York managed just 2-of-6 shooting.
That changed in the second quarter when the Dukes broke out for 19 points to take a 25-22 advantage at halftime. Kosich hit for 8 points during the period and Walsh for 6.
"Defense was the key. Our best offense is our defense," Walsh said. "We got open looks and we shot well."
Things got even hotter in the third quarter when York hit 90 percent from the field for a 23-point outburst and a 48-36 lead at the end of 24 minutes.
Cohn had been cold in the first half at the 3-point line but found his shooting touch in the second. He hit four 3-pointers, including three in the third quarter that were crucial to the Dukes putting some space between themselves and the Huskies.
"I think I was 1 of 5 in the first half. But my coaches and teammates have confidence in me even when sometimes I don't have confidence in myself," Cohn said.
A 15-4 run that lasted about three minutes in the final quarter started drying the ink on the result. Two free throws from Grace put York up 67-48 with just less than three minutes to play.
"This has been building for us. Nick has been with us for four years, Eric three and Sam three. I knew this (the team) was a very special group," said Dukes coach Vince Doran.
Cohn led York with 9 rebounds. Walsh had 7.