York hands Downers North its first loss
York's Alex Sherman had the ball in his hands at two of the most opportune times in the first half of Friday's game against Downers Grove North.
The sophomore reserve guard showed his inexperience and discomfort both times, but like any true shooter, he heaved up rainbow 3-pointers each time from well beyond the 3-point line.
And each time Sherman swished his 3s, with the first from 26 feet at the end of the first-quarter buzzer and his second from the far corner to conclude the first half.
Sherman's two buzzer-beater 3s exemplified York's outstanding first-half shooting display, and provided a direct example of the Trojans' misfortune in the West Suburban Silver game.
The Dukes bounced back from a slow start, hitting five consecutive first-half 3-pointers to cruise to a 43-36 win. In total, the Dukes (4-4, 1-2) finished with six 3s -- all in the first half.
"I couldn't be proud of our kids," York coach Mike Dunn. "This league is so tough, and every game is a war. We took care of the ball, and Alex Sherman is playing very well and is one of our better shooters."
Not surprisingly, York senior point guard Jeff Grace steadied the Dukes in the road win. He hit two 3s and scored 18 points to go with six rebounds and hit several big shots to extend the momentum. Drew Kircher added 10 points for the Dukes. Nate Demos made three 3s for 11 points and Jack Mielke had 11 points and seven boards for the Trojans.
The Trojans (5-1, 1-1) scored just five points in the first half and didn't hit the double-digit mark until Nate Demos canned a 3-pointer with 5:18 left in the third.
The 6-foot-4 Grace, a staple on York's historic run in the previous three years, was the difference in the game.
"We're all trying to make the most of every opportunity and our coach is doing a great job," Grace said. "We showed good composure and believed we could do it."
Dunn said Grace's poise was essential, especially in a game with no rhythm and extreme scoring droughts. The Dukes didn't score a point for the first four minutes of the third quarter, and Grace's two baskets in the fourth were their lone field goals.
"I want to give a lot of credit to Jeff Grace," Dunn said. "He's the ultimate leader and inspiring to me as a coach on how he carries himself. He's a four-year kid who has been through many wars like this. I'm so proud of him."
Regardless of the outcome, the Dukes showed no signs of a stellar shooting effort in the opening five-plus minutes, scoring just two points until Luke Malaga swished a 3-pointer at the 2:13 mark. Forty-five seconds later, Malaga nailed another 3, then Grace hit a 3 and Sherman closed out the late first-quarter flurry of 3s by launching a deep 3 by the Trojans' bench.
Grace drilled a 3 to open the second quarter, while Sherman ended the eight-minute period with a corner 3 for a 22-5 lead.
"I felt we played good for the third quarter and a minute or two of the fourth quarter and hung in there, but we couldn't get the ball to go in early," Downers Grove North coach James Thomas. "York played good defense and were strong. It was one of those days."