YORK — The York Comprehensive High School boys’ basketball team battled host Fort Mill from start to finish but was unable to get over the hump in a 74-66 Fort Mill win Friday.
With the junior scoring duo of Deshaw Andrews and Daurice Simpson leading the way, the Cougars stayed within striking distance until the Yellow Jackets expanded the lead to 15 in the latter stages of the game.
“We’ve got to take care of the basketball,” said first-year York head coach Michael Dalton after the game.
“They switched to a zone trap,” Dalton said. “We had to foul late in the game.”
“The kids continue to play hard,” Dalton said of the Cougars’ effort. “They come ready to play. I am proud of them.”
The Cougars stayed even with Fort Mill in the first quarter as the cross-county rivals battled to a tie at 14.
Senior Jerome Pettiway’s basket put the Cougars ahead 2-1 in early first-quarter action. Andrews, one of the most prolific scorers in the Palmetto State, scored the next two York baskets, staking the Cougars to a 6-5 lead.
Moments later, with the Cougars trailing 8-6, junior guard TaWaun Neely nailed a 3-pointer for a 9-8 York lead.
After the Yellow Jackets regained the lead at 10-9, Shemar Wade’s basket and a 3-pointer by Andrews pushed the Cougars ahead, 14-10; but the Yellow Jackets responded in the final moments of the quarter.
With the Cougars trailing 20-14 early in the second quarter, Andrews and Simpson went to work. A basket by Simpson and a pair of free throws by Andrews, followed by a Simpson 3-pointer, sliced the lead to one at 22-21.
After Fort Mill built the lead to 26-21, a basket by Ben Spratley and a putback by Pettiway left the Yellow Jackets with a 26-25 advantage.
A free throw by Andrews and a basket by Wade left Fort Mill clinging to a 31-28 lead at halftime.
Fort Mill was able to expand the lead to 10 twice on the third quarter, but the Cougars responded each time.
With the Yellow Jackets ahead 45-35 in the final minutes of the third, back-to-back baskets by Andrews and Simpson cut the lead to 45-39.
Later, with Fort Mill ahead 52-42, Simpson’s driving layup and free throw after the foul sliced the lead to 52-45 as the third quarter ended.
In the fourth quarter, the Yellow Jackets forged ahead by as many as 16 and the Cougars again reduced the lead to a workable margin.
Trailing 72-57 with the fourth quarter winding down, the Cougars rallied with Andrews providing the offensive punch, but the Yellow Jackets escaped with the eight-point win.
Andrews paced the scoring for the Cougars with a game-high 28 points; Simpson had 24. Pettiway had five points, Wade and Spratley four each and Neely three.
With the season winding down, Dalton said, there’s no letup in a demanding region slate of games. “We’re getting ready to play the Rock Hill schools and other talented region teams,” he said.
The Cougars will host Northwestern on Friday at 8 p.m. following the girls’ game, which will start at 6:30 p.m.
The YCHS teams travel to Lancaster on Tuesday, with a doubleheader beginning at 6:30 p.m. Next will be Clover at home Feb.14.