ELMHURST – York guard Nick Kosich doesn’t think his team’s 59-30 loss to Oak Park-River Forest on Jan. 11 was indicative of the Dukes’ talent.
“No, personally, I don’t think any team is 29 points better than us,” Kosich said. “It was a really tough game.”
Kosich was correct on both points. Oak Park was still better than the Dukes during the rematch on Saturday night, but the margin of victory was dramatically reduced.
Chase Robinson sank four free throws in the final 10 seconds as the visiting Huskies clinched a share of the West Suburban Conference Silver Division championship by beating York 54-52.
The Dukes (23-4, 8-2) can still get a share of the league title if they beat Proviso West and Hinsdale Central on the road next week and the Huskies (16-7,10-1) lose at home to Downers Grove North.
But York could have controlled its own destiny had the Dukes hit a couple more shots or free throws in this one. That made the Senior Night loss sting a little more.
“This one hurts right now,” Kosich said. “They are a really good team. Hopefully we get a chance to see them again in the playoffs.”
Kosich had a rough shooting outing, going 4-for-12, but still tied Oak Park’s Josh Smith for game-high scoring honors with 15 points. His struggles mirrored that of the Dukes, who went 4-for-21 from 3-point range and also missed eight free throws.
The Huskies, though, were hot in the clutch. They were 20-for-23 from the line and 15-for-29 from the floor.
“Give them credit; they made free throws and we didn’t,” York coach Vince Doran said. “But I’m really proud that the kids really gutted it out, climbed back in it and had a run at them.”
Indeed, the Huskies appeared headed for another blowout win when Dashon Enoch’s 3-pointer gave the visitors a 25-12 lead. But Erik Cohn and Kosich hit back-to-back 3s to begin the comeback, which really got going in the third quarter.
The Dukes opened the second half with a 14-2 run to take a 40-34 lead. Cohn punctuated the rally with an emphatic dunk.
“That was good,” Kosich said. “That was one of our focus points, was first five minutes come out and give them a nice good punch.
“But you have to give them credit. They bounced right back from it. It ended up being a neck-and-neck game in the end, and they made more plays than we did.”
The Huskies were helped by the foul trouble that hampered York center Sam Walsh throughout the game. Walsh played limited minutes but was effective when he was on the court, making 6-of-7 shots and finishing with 13 points.
Walsh’s inside basket gave York its last lead, 44-42, and his last bucket tied the game at 46 and John Milling scored on a putback to make it 48-48 with 1:53 remaining.
But Robinson, who scored his team’s last six points, scored inside at the 1:34 mark to put the Huskies ahead to stay.
Kosich split a pair of free throws with 12.7 seconds left before Robinson made both ends of a 1-and-1 for a 52-49 lead. The Huskies chose to foul Nate Shockey, who missed both free throws with 6.7 ticks remaining.
Robinson again converted both ends of a 1-and-1 before Shockey banked in a 3 at the buzzer.
“Ironically, what we’ve done to other people was done to us tonight,” Doran said. “We dug ourselves a hole and had to climb back and did. That’s not easy to do against them.
“Hopefully, we’ll use this as motivation. No time to feel sorry for ourselves.”