BARTLETT – Tuesday’s sectional semifinal between York and Morton was such a memorable and hard fought game that it was tough to see a loser come out of it.
The Mustangs outlasted the Dukes 77-74 in three overtimes in a game with more plot twists than a soap opera.
“This doesn’t take anything away from the year that these guys had,” York coach Vince Doran said. “They’re just tremendous competitors, great people. It’s an absolute honor to coach kids like that. They’ll be successful in life and do great things after they leave college. It’s just heartbreaking. It’s the toughest loss I’ve ever been associated with.”
Morton led 46-30 after three quarters before York stormed back with a 13-0 run. The game was tight the rest of the way and the Dukes forced overtime on a Jack Heinle put back with 18 seconds left in regulation.
“Never rule our guys out,” Doran said. “They’re high character kids. They did absolutely everything to get us back in that position to win the game.”
In the overtime, York led 59-57 after Jayvon Thomas made two free throws with 3.4 seconds left. Morton’s Greg Carter then drove the floor and drew a foul with no time left. He was able to sink both free throws with no one else at the line and extended the game.
Carter was Morton’s savior again in the second overtime when he made a driving layup with five seconds remaining to tie the score at 65-65. After that, Morton finally pulled away.
The Mustangs led by seven in the third overtime with less than 50 seconds left, but York was still able to get off a potential tying 3-point attempt at the buzzer despite having three players foul out.
“It was a great high school game,” Doran said. “It’s unfortunate to be on this side of it.”
Thomas led the Dukes with 18 points. Stanley Roberts had 17 points and Frank Toohey added 15. All three players fouled out in the overtimes.
Carter scored 21 points in the three overtimes and finished with 35.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and I think that was one of the greatest games that I’ve ever seen,” Morton coach Tony Martinucci said.
To get to the sectional, York defeated Lyons Township 69-57 in a regional final on March 7. It was the second straight regional title for the Dukes.
“I’m really happy for our seniors, especially, to win two [regionals] in a row,” Doran said. “It’s quite an accomplishment for them.”
York’s 10 seniors, Toohey, Roberts, Heinle, Charlie Rose, Sean Lyons, Brent Gasparich, Scott McKay, Christian Klos, Timothy Worley and Christian Foster, leave the program after one of its best stretches.