HINSDALE – After the fact, Matt Rafferty and the rest of Hinsdale Central’s boys basketball team were able to admit how big Tuesday’s game against York was.
“We all knew that it was to share conference, depending on the games Friday, so we knew it was a big game and we put everything on the line,” the Central junior forward said. “But we tried to treat it like a regular game.”
The Red Devils won 50-47 to pull into a first-place tie with the Dukes atop the West Suburban Silver conference. Both teams are 10-1 in the league, and each has one game left on the WSS schedule tonight. York faces Oak Park-River Forest on the road while Central hosts Glenbard West.
Central, the defending Silver champs, briefly savored the win over York before turning its attention to Glenbard West.
“We’ve got to get this win Friday, and we’re going to focus on that in practice,” Rafferty said. “Hopefully after that we’ll feel really good about [where we’re at].”
The Red Devils (19-6 overall) never trailed, but the first half was a defensive struggle. Central led 9-8 after a quarter and 21-18 at halftime.
The third quarter was when Central made its move.
An 8-0 run at the start of the second half pushed the lead to double-digits. York (22-3) cut the deficit to 34-25, but Rafferty scored the final four Central points of the third quarter to give the Red Devils a 38-27 lead.
York crept back in the fourth quarter and used a 7-0 surge to make it a 47-45 game. Frank Toohey’s late layup made it 48-47 before Central’s Chase Hamilton hit two free throws to seal the win.
Even Central head coach Nick Latorre, who typically espouses the one-game-at-a-time approach, admitted the game had some added significance.
“It wasn’t just another game, of course, because there were conference championship implications involved,” Latorre said, “but as far as how we go about preparing, it didn’t change a whole bunch.”
Rafferty finished with a game-high 17 points and had 10 rebounds. Hamilton scored 12 points in the second half and finished with 16. Jordan Bradshaw tallied nine points.
Hinsdale Central 50
Three keys to victory
1. Third quarter run: The Red Devils started the third quarter with an 8-0 run to grab a 29-18 lead. York got within five late in the frame, but a Matt Rafferty basket pushed the lead to 39-27 heading to the fourth quarter.
2. Defense: Central's collapsing defense made life tough inside for York big man Frank Toohey, and the Red Devils pressured the Dukes into contested shots that missed the mark. York was 11-of-30 from the field through three quarters.
3. Free throw shooting: Grant Lillard split a one-and-one with 34.3 seconds remain to give Central a 48-45 lead. When York cut it to 48-47, Chase Hamilton sank two free throws with 3.5 seconds left to seal the win.