Casey sparks York to easy win over Downers Grove South
York was in need of senior leadership after losing 6-foot-6 senior center Nick Hesch to a torn ACL in the second game of the season.
The Dukes may have found one in guard Tieran Casey.
On the day Hesch underwent successful knee surgery, the 5-11 Casey racked up 10 points, a game-high five steals, four rebounds and two assists to spark York to a 55-25 victory over host Downers Grove South on Tuesday.
Casey did much of his damage in the first half. He sank his first four shots, including two 3-pointers, and helped lead a full-court press that made life miserable for the Mustangs.
"He's a kid that has really stepped up in Nick's absence," York coach Mike Dunn said. "He has really done a fantastic job with what we do in our defensive system, and then hit some big shots.
"The other day he hit a big 3 to kind of get us back in the game against Naperville North in the fourth quarter. He brings everything you can ask for in a senior."
Dunn had one system in place to utilize the talents and size of Hesch. Without their big man, the Dukes have had change tactics on the fly.
"All 16 guys on the team have stepped into new roles," Casey said. "We're asked to do a little bit more and in practice we rep different things to get ready for our game plan.
"We're still learning, obviously. But I think every game we're getting better."
The Dukes (5-1) were better than ever, especially defensively, against the inexperienced Mustangs (1-6), who had trouble getting the ball past midcourt and then struggled to hit shots when they did.
York forced 11 turnovers in the first half in taking a 14-6 lead, then opened the second quarter with a 15-4 run. Casey made both of his treys during that spurt, while sophomore guard AJ Levine made the first of his four 3-pointers and senior guard Drew Kircher converted a four-point play after being fouled while making a 3.
Levin later sank three consecutive 3s in the third quarter to finish with a game-high 12 points. Alex Sherman added eight points and Daniel Dalic had seven for the Dukes.
"This was definitely one of our better games," Casey said. "Everyone was hitting shots.
"I hit a few shots to start, but we had AJ coming in the second half and he hit three in that third quarter. We had a pretty balanced scoresheet and I think that really got us going and that transitioned into our defense."
The defense was particularly impressive, forcing 22 turnovers. Nine different players combined for 17 steals for York, with Braden Richardson getting three and Sherman and Peyton Stark two apiece to back the play of Casey.
"We play a ball press so we have three different rows," Casey said. "Coach asks me to play all three rows, so when I'm in each row I try to do my best at whatever role that is.
"When I'm at the top of the press, I'm really just trying to deflect passes. Tonight, I got into a lot of lanes and got my hands on a lot of balls and a lot of that was because of the pressure my teammates had. That allowed me to get a lot of tips and steals."
Charles Shaw had five points and nine rebounds to lead the Mustangs, who shot just 10 of 41 when they did manage to avoid turnovers.
"Those kids played hard," Dunn said. "They made us work for the lead that we got.
"We know they're inexperienced and they struggle with pressure so we really wanted to turn up as much pressure as possible. I thought we did a real nice job with that.
"(Downers South) coach (Zach) Miller is a really good young coach, so he'll get things rolling."
Despite their record, Dunn doesn't think the Dukes are rolling yet.
"We're just trying to get better every day, creating a new identity for ourselves," Dunn said. "It's going to take some time."