Aurora - A strong defensive first half performance set the tone for the Dukes’ first Central Conference Tournament championship since 2003.
The Duke boys forced Crete into eight first-half turnovers, held the Cardinals to 5-16 shooting from the field and went on to capture their first Central Conference Tournament championship in 10 years with a 48-34 win Saturday night at Aurora High School.
York first year head coach Scott Lamberty was quick to point out that this championship was a product of great defensive play.
“I thought that we played real well on defense, especially in the first half. The defense got us a big lead and we were able to ride that early lead through the rest of the game,” Lamberty said. “In the second half we didn’t do as well on their screen and roll offense as they were able to turn the corner more than they did in the first half and get to the basket, but we had the nice lead and we were able to keep them from making much of a run at us.”
The Cardinals and Dukes were tied at 7-7 through the first eight minutes, but a mini run opened the York lead to 13-7 before Crete fought back to make it 13-11.
York distanced itself over the final four minutes of the second quarter with a 10-2 run to lead 23-13 at the break.
York junior Ty Danielson scored eight of his game-high 22 points in the second quarter to spark the York offense to the 10-point halftime cushion.
“Ty gives everyone a sense of relief, because the other guys know he is going to go out there and get a basket when we need it, and they come to rely on him,” Lamberty stated. “Sometimes Ty puts too much pressure on himself to get things done, but he’s been up to the challenge and continues to come through for us.”
The third quarter was a wash as the teams both scored eight points, but in the fourth York’s free throw shooting was the big difference.
York connected on 11-15 in the fourth quarter and 14-19 overall as Danielson was 5-6 and Jonah Otte, who scored 12 points in the win, was 4-4. The Cardinals’ chances at a comeback were hurt as they hit only 8-19 at the 15-foot freebie stripe.
Crete did provide a little excitement late as it cut the Duke lead from 40-27 with 1:58 to play to just 40-32 with 1:04 to play behind five straight points from their leading scorer Jake Harms, who finished with 12.
York was able to hit charity tosses down the stretch to secure the win and the Central Conference crown.
York finished the game 16-37 from the field for 45 percent and just 2-11 from the 3-point arc. Crete was 13-31 for 42 percent, 0-6 from 3-point range and had 15 turnovers to York’s 10.
“Defensively we are playing very well, but we need to keep working and improving especially on offense,” explained Lamberty. “We need to get much sharper offensively and get much more aggressive. We still need to work on blocking out better and just keep improving overall. We have a real tough week ahead with two games starting Tuesday with Central City at home and Saturday we go to take on Lakeview which we all know will be a tough game. We have Beatrice and from what I saw from Seward they look very athletic.”
York (12-4) hosts Central City on Tuesday and will be at Lakeview on Saturday with a 7:15 p.m. scheduled tip on Saturday.
Crete (7-9) ................ 7 6 8 13 - 34
York (12-4) ................. 7 16 8 17 - 48
Crete (34)- C. Steer 2 2-4 6, C. Hintz 1 2-3 4, N. Harms 2 1-6 3, J. Harms 5 2-4 12, A. McGinnis 2 1-2 5, C. Meinke 1 0-0 2. Totals -13-31 (0) 8-19 34.
York (48)- T. Danielson 6 (2) 8-10 22, J. Miller 2 0-0 4, J. Otte 4 4-4 12, G. Suddarth 1 0-0 2, E. Neville 1 0-0 2, L. Thomas 1 0-3 2, R. Dolan 1 2-2 4. Totals- 16-37 (2) 14-19 48.