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Playing with grit and determination, the York Comprehensive High School boys extended Northwestern to the limit on the road, with the Trojans surviving a 56-55 barnburner.
Trailing 49-41 midway through the fourth quarter, sophomore guard Daurice Simpson drilled a 3-pointer, slicing the lead to five.
Moments later, fellow sophomore DeShaw Andrews converted a 3-point play the conventional way, a basket and free throw.
When Northwestern pushed the lead to 51-47, Simpson nailed another 3-pointer and the Trojans led by a scant point.
With the clock winding down, the host Trojans scored again, pushing the lead to 55-52 with slightly more than a minute left in the game.
Enter Simpson, who converted yet another 3-pointer, knotting the score at 55-all with 58.7 seconds left on the scoreboard clock.
Moments later, Northwestern converted a free throw with 13.7 seconds left and the crowd at a feverish pitch.
The Cougars got the ball back in the area of the free throw line, but a Northwestern player stole the ball and dribbled the final seconds away to secure the win for the Trojans.
“We didn’t execute at the end,” said YCHS head coach Larry Dixon after the game. “That’s my fault.”
Dixon lauded the players for staying with it through the final seconds of the game. “The kids played with hustle and character,” he noted. “We lost by 12 or 14 to Northwestern at home. Northwestern is a good team and our kids fought back. We are still growing.”
The first quarter was nip-and-tuck, with the Cougars leading 18-17.
With the Cougars trailing 9-6 in the opening quarter, D.J. Simpson nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game and Daurice Simpson followed with a basket and free throw as the Cougars moved ahead 12-9.
Northwestern had the upper hand in the second and third quarters, though not by much, and led 43-36 to start the fourth quarter.
In an earlier game last week, the Cougars fell behind early and closed the gap late before bowing 55-44 to a Rock Hill team that was tied for first atop the Region 3-AAAA standings at the time.
The Cougars kept it close in the first quarter, trailing by seven at the end of the quarter.
Daurice Simpson scored a pair of baskets and Andrews converted two free throws to keep the host Cougars in the game in the early going.
But it was not to be as the Bearcats pulled away before halftime and expanded the lead in the second half.
The Cougars narrowed the gap, outscoring the Bearcats 17-9 in the final quarter but it wasn’t enough.
“We didn’t have the intensity we needed in the first half,” Dixon said. “You better be ready to play every night in this region. You have to credit Rock Hill.”
Daurice Simpson was the leading scorer for the Cougars with 15 points. Andrews was next with 14.
The Cougars travel to Clover Friday night for the final meeting of the season with their archrivals. Game time is set for 8 p.m. following the varsity girls game at 6:30 p.m.