ELMHURST – In a season where close games became the norm for the York boys basketball team, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that its playoff opener followed the same script.
Playing in their fifth consecutive contest that came down to the wire, the Dukes overcame a double-digit fourth quarter deficit Monday night to prevail, 50-47, against Naperville Central in a Class 4A regional quarterfinal matchup in Elmhurst.
Junior guard Angelo Martucci did most of the heavy lifting in the closing stages, converting a three-point play with 34 seconds left to give York a 48-47 lead. He then made a basket via a full-court pass off an inbounds play with 10 seconds remaining to account for the final margin.
The Dukes advance to take on Benet on Feb. 28.
“That was awesome for us, especially with all of the close games we’ve had,” said Martucci, who was one of three Dukes’ players in double figures with 14 points. “Our coaches kept telling us to battle, battle, battle and that’s what we kept doing. We never gave up.”
Jordan Gray also scored 14 points and Eric Cohn chipped in with 10 for York, which pulled to within one game of the .500-mark at 14-15.
“Our coaches kept telling us to battle, battle, battle and that’s what we kept doing. We never gave up.”
Earlier in the season, it was the young Dukes, who have only three seniors on the roster, who were oftentimes coming up a play or two short. In fact, the team has seven defeats by six points or less and an eighth that was decided in overtime.
“We’ve started making plays down the stretch,” York coach Vince Doran said. “We lost a tough one to Proviso East (on Feb. 21), but we also beat Lyons Township, Proviso West and Hinsdale Central. We’ve been playing better down the stretch for sure.”
York began the campaign with five sophomores up on the varsity, but two of them – starters Nick Kosich and Mike Pedote – were lost for the year with knee injuries.
“We have had so many injuries this year, but it’s the next man up mentality,” Martucci said. “Everyone has to step up and play their role.”
And that experience will only help later on.
“Losing those guys, we had to adjust,” Doran said. “Other guys have been given opportunities and that will only make us better in the future. And it has made us better right now.”
IC Catholic Prep 53, Timothy Christian 52
Courtesy of a 53-52 win against Timothy Christian on Feb. 24, IC Catholic Prep added another chapter to its stellar season by capturing the title at the Class 2A regional the Knights hosted.
Luke Ricobene’s basket, off a pass from Matt Sutton, with under 10 seconds left turned out to be the difference for the home team, who won their 21st game of the winter. Alex Meurer topped all scorers with 19 points.
IC Catholic advances to the Guerin sectional, where the squad will take on highly-ranked Orr on Feb. 28.
During the regular season, the Knights won a share of the Metro Suburban Blue division championship.
The Trojans ended the year with a 17-11 mark. Brandon Orange had 17 points to lead the way while Jonny Strube added 11.
Timothy Christian will lose five seniors to graduation, including three-year varsity team member Joey Davidson.