PALATINE — York's relentless determination down the stretch proved too much for Cary-Grove to handle during Day 3 of pool play at the Ed Molitor Thanksgiving Classic on Friday.
York senior guard Nate Shockey scored a game-high 22 points — while sinking all eight of his fourth quarter free throw attempts — as the Dukes (3-0) pulled away late for a 53-44 victory to advance to Saturday's championship game against Stevenson (3-0) at 4:45 p.m.
"We knew we needed to get to the rim and attack the basket," said Shockey, a North Dakota recruit. "And we knew if we didn't finish our shots, there would be a good chance we'd be shooting free throws, because there was a lot of contact going on."
Senior Jake Brandolino also made all four of his fourth quarter free throw tries, as the Dukes shot 14 of 16 from the line in during the final eight minutes. It was a stark contrast to the first 24 minutes, in which York only attempted six combined free throws.
"The thing about being aggressive like we were is it usually leads to good things," said York assistant coach Rob Wostratzky, who was the acting head coach while Vince Doran tended to a family matter on Friday.
"It opens up our inside-outside game and frees up our shooters on the perimeter when the defense collapses, and we did a nice job of making some big plays when we needed to."
The Dukes made three of their five shot attempts in the final quarter. The Trojans sank just two of their final eight tries, and also missed four free throws during that span.
The Trojans (2-1) led briefly by two points early in the fourth, before falling behind again and re-tying the game at 39-39 with 5:19 remaining, thanks to a pair of foul shots by Frank Jakubicek (14 points, seven rebounds, two blocks). But the Dukes finished the game on a 14-4 run.
C-G senior guard Beau Frericks did his best to keep the game close early in the second half, pouring in nine of his team-best 16 points in the third quarter. But the Dukes clamped down and held him scoreless the rest of the way.
Frericks was optimistic afterward despite the loss.
"We've got a lot of guys who compete hard," Frericks said. "Every play we compete. As long as we play good defense, good things will happen, and it will allow us to compete in just about every game."
C-G did an excellent job defensively, limiting the Dukes to just 31.4 shooting (17 for 54) from the field.
However, second chances on the offensive glass may have been the tipping point in Friday's outcome. York pulled down ten offensive rebounds, compared to just five by the C-G, and outrebounded the Trojans, 27-22.
"We gave them too many extra looks," Trojans coach Adam McCloud said. "They were just beating us up on the glass late in the game. And I think at halftime we had seven turnovers, to just one for them. Those are a whole bunch of extra possessions.
We needed to take care of the ball a bit better. And when we combined that with poor shooting when we needed it ... this winds up as the result. But we'll be fine. We've got a group of guys who are determined to learn and keep getting better every night."
The Trojans will play in Saturday's third-place game against Palatine at 1:30 p,m.
York, on the other hand, knows it will have its hands full in the title game against Stevenson.
"We're really looking forward to that challenge," Wostatzky said. "They're a really good basketball team with guys who can do a lot of things on the basketball court. It will be a great early-season test for our guys."