YORK — With players from the football team impacting the boys basketball game in a huge way, the Cougar lost two hard-fought games last week.
The YCHS boys extended Chester to the limit before bowing 81-75 at home Friday, a marked improvement from a 99-74 loss at Chester earlier this season.
The Cyclones maintained a double-digit lead for much of the second half and threatened to make it a blowout, leading 66-50 in the early moments of the fourth quarter.
But the Cougars had other ideas, with Deshaw Andrews scoring in bunches and Daurice Simpson doing his share of the damage.
Having sliced the lead to seven at 71-64, the Cougars continued the scoring surge. A basket by Simpson and two free throws by Markell Castle made it a one-possession game at 71-68.
But the Cyclones answered down the stretch to win by six.
“I will continue to emphasize the need to play defense every game,” head coach Michael Dalton said. “We cut the lead from double-digits to three points with defensive intensity. We competed with Chester better than we did the first game.”
Dalton said progress is being made. “I am proud of the kids,” he said. “We are cutting down on the number of turnovers.”
The first-year YCHS coach said Andrews and Simpson are setting the pace offensively. “The players are becoming aware of their offensive production,” said Dalton.
Andrews, who paced the scoring with 30 points, said shooting the ball is all about confidence.
“I have confidence shooting the ball, especially when I get into a rhythm,” he said. “You need the mindset of knowing you can score.”
Rounding out the scoring, Simpson finished with 20 points; Castle, 11; and Jerome Pettiway, 8.
Earlier in the week, the Cougars lost to visiting Indian Land 76-74 in overtime in a nail-biter from start to finish.
Once again, it was Andrews and Simpson providing the scoring punch with 26 and 18 points, respectively.
The Cougars appeared to have nailed down the win, leading 69-67 in the final seconds of regulation.
But Indian Land’s 5-foot-1 floor leader, Darnell Rogers, nailed a buzzer-beater to send the game into overtime.
With the Cougars trailing 75-71 in the overtime period, Andrews scored a clutch basket and converted the free throw after the foul, slicing the lead to 75-74 with 17.4 seconds remaining.
But Indian Land held on with a free throw in the final seconds for the 76-74 win.
The Cougars host Fort Mill Thursday at home, beginning at 8 p.m.