ELMHURST – It was the perfect start that never ended.
York's boys basketball team scored the game's first 12 points against Oak Park-River Forest, then never let up in Thursday's stunning 65-40 victory in Elmhurst in the first of two showdowns between the West Suburban Silver front-runners.
The Dukes (16-2, 5-0), now alone atop the Silver standings, took a double-digit lead for good with about three minutes left in the first quarter. Even after the Huskies (9-6, 4-1) scored the final nine points of the first half, that still only dented the margin to 34-22.
"With the home advantage you've got to take care of business," said Dukes junior guard Jeff Grace, who scored 16 of his 20 points in the first half. "We just had to stay focused and execute like we did tonight. We just believed in each other and battled."
Grace epitomized the Dukes' aggressiveness at both ends of the court, scoring numerous times on physical drives to the basket. About the only thing York didn't do spectacularly well was shoot from beyond the arc, but it didn't matter.
Nate Shockey led all scorers with 21 points despite hitting only two 3-pointers.
"Jeff and everyone drove to the hoop really well," Shockey said. "It's great to get those kinds of starts because it propels you through the rest of the game. We were definitely looking forward to this. They got us twice last year and that stuck with us."
Being beaten by Oak Park in both Silver games last year clearly resonated with the Dukes on Thursday. They stayed aggressive in the second half, knowing the Huskies, playing without 6-foot-8 Justin Cross due to injury, could hit them with a run at any time.
But it never happened.
After surrendering the quick burst at the end of the first half, the Dukes allowed Oak Park to score no more than four straight points in the second half. ␚
Isaiah Barnes led Oak Park with 18 points while Josh Smith added 13 points.
"We'll definitely take it, but we know it's still really early in the race," said York coach Vince Doran. "Certainly nice to get them here at home."