YORK — The York Cougars made sure the ball was in the hands of sophomore guard Daurice Simpson with the game on the line Tuesday in a key Region 3 4Acontest against Nation Ford.
With the score tied at 42 and 1 minute, 1 second remaining, Simpson handled the ball near the top of the key, and he maneuvered a cross-over dribble to create shooting space against a Falcons defender.
Simpson pulled up and launched a clutch jumper that swished the bottom of the net to give the Cougars a two-point lead and the necessary momentum for the 46-44 victory.
“The play was actually ran to the wrong side and I just had to make something good happen,” Simpson said in describing the play. “I had confidence that I could make a play for us to win.”
Following the go-ahead jumper, Nation Ford made a turnover with 48 seconds remaining. With the Falcons committing only two team fouls and needing four more to reach the penalty, Simpson grabbed four straight inbound passes and was fouled each time.
He went to the foul line and sank both attempts with 23.4 seconds remaining. On the next Falcons possession, the guard soared to grab the rebound on a missed shot attempt with 9.6 seconds remaining to seal the Cougars’ victory.
“He is just a sophomore and is so young, just like most of our players,” York coach Larry Dixon said. “But this was a good win; we have actually had only four full practices due to football and the flu going around.
“So we had to will ourselves to this win against a good Nation Ford team. We knew this was going to be a tough game.”
Nation Ford coach Brian Turner said that having to fight back from a deficit the entire game before finally pulling even in the late stages took its toll.
“We played uphill throughout the game, all in an effort to finally being able to tie it up,” said Turner. “But when it came down to executing late in the game, it often boils down to getting the ball in your playmakers hands. York was able to do that tonight.”
Turner also added that going up against a taller Cougars squad made it tough. The Falcons had nine shots either blocked or deflected in the first half. However, Nation Ford was able to hang tough by closing the half with six straight points to trail 21-15.
York was able to maintain a working margin, leading as much as nine, 37-28, late in the third quarter. However, the Falcons kept coming and were able to finally pull even at 42 when forward Riley Hilton powered inside for two at the 2:32 mark.
Both teams missed shot attempts on alternating possessions until Simpson gave the Cougars a lift the clutch jumper with 1:01 remaining.
York guard Markell Castle netted four 3-pointers and finished with 12 points for the York. Carson Smith led Nation Ford with 14.
York 46, Nation Ford 42
Nation Ford — Nick Turner 2, Carson Smith 14, Riley Hilton 7, Jordan Causey 7, Nank Tuipulotu 2, Justin Sergent 6, Mike Campbell 2, Daisean McCain 2.
York — Markell Castle 12, Daurice Simpson 15, Deshaw Andrews 8, Kaiyon Schrouder 10, Ben Spratley 7.
3-pointers — Nation Ford 1 (Smith 1), York 5 (Castle 4, Simpson 2). Team fouls — York 14, Nation Ford 14. Fouled out — None.
Records: Nation Ford 3-3, 1-1 in Region 3-AAAA; York 4-1, 1-0.