York High defeated Northeastern, 84-80, in overtime in the District 3 Class 5-A semifinals Monday night at Hershey's Giant Center. Elijah Armold, York Dispatch
HERSHEY — As any good coach will do, York High's Clovis Gallon drew up the final play of regulation with plenty of options for his boys' basketball team.
Once the Bearcats broke the huddle, however, senior standout Kyree Generett did what he had done during all of Monday’s night District 3 Class 5-A semifinal showdown vs. Northeastern at Hershey’s Giant Center —- he took over.
“I told my point guard ‘give me the ball,’ because I’m a senior, I wanted the win or the loss on me because I can take it.” Generett said after the game. “I wasn’t losing that game.”
With the Bearcats trailing by three with under 10 seconds remaining, the plan was to get the ball to point guard Jaevon Woodyard. He was to then drive and look for a kick out to any of the Bearcats three designated 3-point options.
With the Bobcats' defense in position to handle his drive, Woodyard quickly kicked left to Generett atop the left wing. Generett got above the outstretched arm of a closing Fred Mulbah and sent the Bearcats faithful into a frenzy.
The shot pushed the game to overtime, where his 10th-seeded Bearcats (16-9) eventually pulled away for an 84-80 victory.
“As he walked out of the huddle, Kyree said ‘don’t pass the ball to anyone but me,” Gallon said. “I didn’t hear him say it, I didn’t find out about it until afterwards, but he made a big play.”
In title game: The win puts the Bearcats in Thursday’s Class 5-A title game slated to tip at 8:30 p.m. back at Giant Center. York is looking for its first district title since earning the Class 4-A crown back in 2015.
In the final, York will face No. 5 seed Milton Hershey (22-3), which won the other 5-A semifinal over No. 8 seed Lower Dauphin (19-6).
The No. 3 Bobcats (24-3) will next appear in Wednesday’s 5-A third-place game at 8 p.m. Wednesday at East Pennsboro vs. Lower Dauphin. Monday's loss means the Bobcats won't be able to defend their District 3 5-A title.
Generett’s big shot capped a heroic quarter that saw him shoulder the load for York by scoring 15 of his game-high 36 points. The 3-pointer that sent it to overtime was Generett’s third of the quarter and his sixth of six for the game.
Making a comeback: With the Bobcats ahead 63-56 midway through the fourth, Generett began a barrage that saw him rattle off 10 points in a row for the Bearcats.
Generett canned the first of his three fourth-quarter 3-pointers before following that up with an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 63-62 Bobcats. After an Antonio Rizzuto free throw made it 64-62 Northeastern, Generett responded with a trip to the line of his own and tied the game at 64.
After a Mulbah free throw on Northeastern’s next trip down, Generett again got into the heart of the Bobcats defense and earned a trip to the line. He converted both, capping a 10-2 run that saw the Bearcats take a 66-65 lead with 3:42 left in regulation.
“I thought that early in the year, he was doing some things and not getting the credit,” Gallon said while assessing Generett’s performance. “And I told him ‘that’s OK, keep grinding, keep grinding.’ He’s one of the best players in the league and today he showed it.”
York starts fast: Things got off to a fast start for the Bearcats, York knocked down five of its first six shots from the floor and raced out to a 13-4 lead.
That's when Northeastern standouts Rizzuto and Fred Mulbah were spurred into action.
Mulbah earned back-to-back steals and finished each with baskets before assisting on a Rizzuto three-point play to put Northeastern back in it at 13-11. Mulbah would finish with nine of his 24 points in the first quarter, which ended with the Bobcats ahead 16-14.
Rizzuto took his star turn in the second quarter, scoring 13 of his team-high 34 points in the frame, helping Northeastern carry a 39-37 edge into the locker room at halftime.
Clovis Gallon Jr. scored 16 points for York High and Woodyard finished with 13, including a trio of 3-pointers. Marquise McClean rounded out the Bearcats' double digit scoring with 12 points.
Tough schedule prepared Bearcats: Being locked late in a tight battle with a high-caliber foe on the big stage might have been a moment that would have seen lesser teams shrivel —- but not these Bearcats.
They’ve been in this spot before. In fact, it was the Bearcats who on Jan. 30 ended Northeastern’s 18-0 start to the season by capturing a 72-64 double-overtime victory.
York has now gone to overtime six times this year, winning four times, including twice against the Bobcats. They also loaded their schedule with rugged out-of-league contests that would ultimately prepare the Bearcats for the biggest stages.
“It helps us a lot,” Generett said of playing in tough match-ups throughout the season. “People look at our record and we’re the underdogs; but we played a lot of good teams. We’re battle tested. We’re prepared for these moments.”
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.