ELMHURST – York junior guard Matty Stark is making up for lost time on the basketball court.
She missed her eighth-grade and freshman seasons after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament for the same knee twice.
“Assists and shooting are what I like to do,” Stark said. “I’ve practiced a lot, put in a lot of time so I’m glad it’s finally showing.”
Stark and the Dukes found many ways to contribute Thursday to a hard-fought 44-36 West Suburban Silver victory over Hinsdale Central in Elmhurst.
The victory kept York (12-5, 5-2) one loss behind Glenbard West and Lyons Township, who play Saturday, in the Silver race and snapped a three-game losing streak. York, which beat Hinsdale Central 47-26 Dec. 5, led 22-11 at halftime – even with just two points in the first six-plus minutes of the second quarter.
The Red Devils (6-10, 1-7) slashed the deficit to 29-26 entering the fourth quarter but never got closer.
“It was rough the second half but I was so happy that we came through,” Stark said. “Definitely coming into this game we needed a win, especially for conference.”
Senior Danielle Dennis had 16 points and Stark 14, with both of the Dukes’ three-pointers. Freshman guard Molly Sheehan led Hinsdale Central with 16 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Alex Hughes aded 10 points and Reilly Revord had 11 rebounds.
York made 6 of 9 free throws in the final two minutes after the Red Devils closed to 37-32.
“We jumped out to a nice lead, pushed [the ball] well. They switched to a zone in that second quarter and we did not make the adjustment well,” York coach Brandon Collings said. “We’ve got good-shooting games, bad-shooting games. Our bad-shooting ones have been our losses against some better teams. We’re not putting it all together yet. Once we get there, I think we’re a tough team for sure.”
The past seven games, Stark has averaged a team-best 11 points to complement double-digit scoring leaders Dennis and senior Caylin Rufus. Stark also averages a team-best 3.25 assists.
“She’s been phenomenal for us,” Collings said. “She’s been mixing it up, driving to the basket and some free throws, open threes. And defensively, steals. She’s been doing it all.”
Last year’s starting point guard for the sophomores, Stark prepared for more shooting this season but struggled early finding her touch. Stark stayed with Collings after practice to regain it.
“Our offense has gotten me the open shots,” Stark said. “Now I’m trying not to be [strictly] a three-point shooter. I look to drive and kick because that’s what our offense pretty much off of.”
Rufus did not start Thursday but made two free throws with 1:02 left for a 40-34 lead and had five rebounds and three blocks. Rufus did not practice Wednesday after being injured during Tuesday’s 60-58 loss at Oak Park-River Forest.
Junior Kathleen Levins, who started in Rufus’ place, had four first-quarter points. Senior point guard Madison Park had three assists and a three early in the fourth quarter. Senior Lauren Viola had four points and four fourth-quarter rebounds, including one late offensively following a missed free throw.
“That’s our defensive stopper,” Collings said.
Stark added four of her team-best five steals in the first half, when the Dukes’ full-court press and trapping was most effective.
“It’s really just our defense,” Stark said. “Our rotations really help with steals, being there at the right time. The team really gave me the steals.”