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When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Such was the case Monday, as the York Comprehensive High School boys basketball team responded to the challenge down the stretch, eking out a 57-55 Region 3-AAAA win over visiting Fort Mill.
With the score knotted at 52-all and less than a minute left in the game, sophomore scoring machine DeShaw Andrews’ basket put the Cougars ahead 54-53.
It was at this point that the Cougars executed the spread offense to perfection, consuming the clock with motion and ball movement.
By the time Fort Mill fouled sophomore guard Daurice Simpson, there were 33.2 seconds showing on the scoreboard clock.
Simpson converted both free throws, expanding the lead to 56-52.
But the Yellow Jackets coached by Dwayne Hartsoe weren’t through, slicing the lead to a single point at 56-55 on a 3-pointer with 13 ticks left on the clock.
Andrews’ free throw put the Cougars up 57-55 with nine seconds remaining.
The Yellow Jackets’ desperation shot at the buzzer was off the mark and the Cougars were victorious, much to the delight of frenzied York fans.
“The kids executed the spread offense and played ball control with the game on the line,” said York head coach Larry Dixon after the game. “We knew they had to foul because we had the lead.”
Added Dixon, “We played great defense on the other end. The kids are growing up. Defense and execution on offense will be the keys to success in our remaining region games.”
Monday’s game was closely-contested throughout and the first quarter was no exception.
Markell Castle, Simpson and Andrews had key baskets as the lead see-sawed throughout the quarter.
Fort Mill hit a buzzer-beater as the Yellow Jackets moved ahead 20-18 as the quarter concluded.
In the early moments of the second quarter, Simpson drove to the basket and scored, tacking on a free throw for a 23-22 lead.
Simpson scored again, pushing the lead to three points, but the Jackets tied the score on a 3-pointer.
Another Simpson drive to the hoop gave the Cougars a 31-27 lead at the half.
The third quarter was more of the same, with the Cougars extending the lead to five points on two occasions and the Jackets battling back.
The quarter ended with the teams deadlocked at 41-all.
The fourth quarter ended as it began, closely-contested until the Cougars won the game with a dramatic finish.
Andrews paced the scoring for the Cougars with 23 points and Simpson finished with 18.
The Cougars battled South Pointe to a two-point game at the half in an earlier game, but the Stallions went on a tear in the third quarter, eventually prevailing, 70-43.
“We appeared to be rattled late in the first half when they cut into the lead,” noted Dixon. “South Pointe scored off turnovers in the second half. You can’t play defense when you’re turning the ball over.
“We got away from our game plan and no longer played with patience like we did in the first half.”
Once again, Andrews paced the scoring for the Cougars with 18 points. Jalen McPhail was next with 9 points.
The Cougars travel to Northwestern Friday for double-header action in Trojan Country, beginning with the girls game at 6:30 p.m. The boys game will follow at 8 p.m.