York wins thriller against Oswego East
Nate Shockey was fuzzy recalling the details of the final sequence of Saturday's game.
The result was crystal clear.
Jeff Grace stole a pass and found a streaking Shockey for a breakaway layup with 1.8 seconds left, providing a thrilling conclusion to York's 40-38 win over Oswego East in the finale of the 10th annual Kivisto Shootout at East Aurora.
"As soon we got that steal I just took off, and Jeff found me perfectly in stride," said Shockey, who scored a game-high 28 points. "Someone tipped a pass, Jeff got the steal and as soon as Jeff has the ball I have confidence that he can make that pass."
Shockey, who scored 19 of his 28 points in the first half, scored on a fadeaway jumper to give York (23-3) a 38-37 lead with 1:01 left. Jalen Tucker split two free throws for Oswego East (17-9) with 32.4 seconds left, but the Wolves maintained possession after the second missed free throw went out of bounds.
As Oswego East held for the last shot, Will Wolfe was double-teamed in the corner, Grace stole his pass out of it and passed ahead to Shockey.
"When they got in the corner we wanted to be aggressive, and we said if we get a rebound or steal we're going," York coach Vince Doran said. "It was a perfect situation with Nate with the ball in his hands."
And a perfect facilitator.
Grace has been slowed recently by an ankle injury, had early foul trouble Saturday and only took three shots with 4 points to go along with 6 assists. But his defense is unquestioned.
"Jeff defensively is as good as it gets," Doran said.
Sam Schultz had 16 points and 8 rebounds and Wolfe had 13 points and 8 rebounds for Oswego East.
The Wolves, to their credit, persisted after a tough start. They trailed by 9 in the second quarter and 8 in the third but came back to take their first lead since midway through the first quarter on Wolfe's steal and score with 1:25 left in the third quarter that made it 28-27.
They were, though, hurt by two end-of-quarter possessions. In the third, after Grayson Goetz drew a York charge, the Wolves threw the inbounds pass away and York converted a buzzer-beater on a lob to Nick Hesch.
"At this time of the year, you really got to understand that every possession matters, and we reiterated that to our guys," Wolves coach Ryan Velasquez said. "I thought we did at times, but not every possession, and that's what we expect."
Shockey, a North Dakota recruit, came out sizzling.
He hit his last four shots of the first quarter and was 5 for 6 from 3-point range in the first half. Shockey's fifth 3 gave York its biggest lead, 21-12.
Oswego East started Tucker on Shockey to start the second half, and shortly thereafter went to Tremont Brewer, its best perimeter defender. Shockey went 0 for 4 from distance in the second half, and at times seemed visibly frustrated with Brewer's close defense.
"All they told me is don't let him catch the ball, stay in front of him," Brewer said. "I pride myself on my defense."
Shockey's basket on a backdoor layup gave York a 27-19 lead with 4:14 left in the third quarter, but Oswego East answered with an 8-0 run.
York won despite getting just 12 points on 5-for-18 shooting from players other than Shockey and being outrebounded 31-19.
"It was one of the most difficult games we've had all year," Shockey said. "We just kept battling. It shows the resiliency of this team."
Resiliency has been required of Oswego East all year. The Wolves were without Schultz because of a torn meniscus the first month and lost Wolfe to a broken nose for a stretch in January. On Saturday they were without rotation players Rithik Ganesan (shoulder) and Odin Lium (thumb).
Velasquez hopes to get Ganesan, at least, back for Friday's cross-town game with Oswego.
"The guys showed a lot of grit," Velasquez said. "The more we do that the better we will be."