TIp off action at York High's Court of Dreams game vs. Cedar Crest High School Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
PHILADELPHIA — York High boys' basketball coach Clovis Gallon remembers sitting in the stands in the Wells Fargo Center last year, watching the Philadelphia 76ers play the New York Knicks, and not fully enjoying it.
It came just hours after his Bearcats team lost to Steel-High in the "Court of Dreams" game at the Wells Fargo Center.
He'll be much happier watching this year's game between the 76ers and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In York High's second appearance in the "Court of Dreams" game, things went much better for Gallon and his squad. Trailing for much of the contest, the Bearcats used a huge fourth quarter to storm back and defeat Cedar Crest, 55-48, and improve to 4-1 on the young season.
The loss for the Falcons was their first of the year. They also fell to 4-1.
"This year, coming away with a win, I made sure the kids understood that this is a business trip for the first half of the day," Gallon said. "Let's take care of business and enjoy the experience afterwards."
Through three quarters, the game was shaping up to be another letdown for Gallon and York High. After trailing for much of the first half and then eventually tying the game late in the third quarter, Cedar Crest ended the third quarter on a 5-0 run to lead, 40-35, going into the final eight minutes.
That final quarter, however, is when the Bearcats played their best basketball. York High outscored the Falcons, 20-8, in the final frame, using a combination of quickness, athleticism and clutch free throw shooting to take the lead and then stretch it.
"It felt great to actually win because last year we didn't get to enjoy it because we lost," guard Kyree Generett said. "It felt like we won a championship game."
The Bearcats opened the quarter on an 8-2 run to take their first lead of game since late in the first quarter. After the teams traded baskets over the next couple possessions, the game turned when Randy Baker scored his only points of the game, converting an and-one three-point play to put York High in front by two.
That sparked a 10-2 finish to the contest for the Bearcats, when Cedar Crest went cold from the floor and the free throw line.
"It gives us confidence," Generett said about the win. "It shows us that we can beat good teams."
York High didn't have to shoot great down the stretch from the free throw line when the Falcons resorted to fouling, but the Bearcats did well enough. York High made four of six free throws in crunch time to extend its lead from three to seven points, gradually growing its lead, while Cedar Crest continued to struggle for points.
Slow start: Offensively, both teams opened the game with slow starts.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well in the first two quarters. The Bearcats relied on getting close looks to score their points, while the difference in the first half were a couple made 3-pointers by the Falcons' Blake Thomson.
Thomson knocked down a 3-pointer and converted an and-one three-point play late in the first quarter to give Cedar Crest a 12-10 lead after one. He hit another 3-pointer in the second quarter to push the team's lead to 24-20 at halftime.
To start the second half, York High got into more of a rhythm offensively, thanks to increasing the tempo. The team started scoring inside with quicker possessions and, with more intensity on defense, forced more misses. That allowed York to get out and run.
"We always preach to run on makes and misses," Gallon said. "We have guys who can advance the ball with a pass and get out in transition and make plays, and in the first half we weren't doing that."
Overcoming size disadvantage: When the Bearcats did get out and run, it prevented the Falcons from setting up their defense and using their two big guys, Cole Laney and Jason Eberhart, as menacing defenders in the paint.
Defensively, York High didn't back down from the two bigs, who each had at least three or four inches over the biggest Bearcat defender. Eberhart was held to just four points in the game, all coming in the first quarter, while Laney scored 13, but had to rely on catching the ball outside of the paint to score.
"We had to front the post, have weak-side help and make sure everyone keeps rotating and boxing out after every shot," Marquise McClean said.
The Bearcats did all of that, forcing plenty of turnovers and rarely giving up second-chance possessions, let alone second-chance points.
York High had seven different players score in the game, led by Generett's 13. McClean added 12, scoring six points in the first quarter and six in the fourth.
Cedar Crest got 13 points from Laney and 11 each from Jaiden Melendez and Thomson, but little else from the rest of the team.
The Bearcats' win gives them plenty of momentum and three days to rest before having two key York-Adams League Division I match-ups against Dallastown and Central York next week.
YH - 10_10_15_20_55
CC - 12_12_16_8_ 48
YH: Generett 5 3-4 13, Gallon Jr. 3 3-6 9, Woodyard 2 1-2 5, Minter 0 0-0 0, Drayden 3 2-2 8, McClean 6 0-0 12, Bernstein 1 2-4 5, Baker 1 1-1 3.
Totals: 21 12-16 55
CC: Melendez 5 1-5 11, Thomson 4 1-1 11, Laney 6 1-2 13, Horn 2 3-8 7, Eberhart 2 0-1 4, Dunlop 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0, Loehr 0 0-0 0, Showers 1 0-0 2.
3-pointers: Thomson (2).
Totals: 20 6-17 48
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org