Last-second basket ends York Suburban boys' basketball season in heartbreaking fashion

ROB ROSE
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Cocalico junior Trey Rios hit five 3-pointers on Tuesday night, but none were as important as his last.

Rios received a pass at halfcourt with 3.4 seconds left in a tied game and was met immediately by York Suburban junior guard Camden Brewer. Rios took two dribbles to his left, pump faked and launched a shot with Brewer’s outstretched hands just inches from blocking the attempt.

The Eagles’ junior drained the improbable 3-pointer as the final buzzer sounded and sent Cocalico to the District 3 Class 5-A final with a 43-40 victory.

No. 8 seed Suburban finished at 15-5.

“It’s a tough one to swallow,” Suburban head coach Mitch Kemp said. “Obviously you don’t want to lose that way, or lose in general, but I don’t think we played the best game tonight and sometimes that’s just the way the ball bounces. The ball bounced their way tonight.”

Cocalico coach Seth Sigman went over to speak with Brewer postgame and said he told the Trojans’ guard he admired his competitiveness and hustle on the court. The Eagles’ coach was excited about the win, but was blunt that there was a real chance this game could have gone to overtime after Rios let the shot go.

“The goal is just try to get a great shot off. That’s obviously not a great-looking shot, but you gotta shoot it at that stage and sometimes you get lucky, and we got lucky,” Sigman said.

Third quarter hurts Trojans: The main reason No. 5 seed Cocalico (16-4) had a chance to win the game at the buzzer was because of Suburban’s struggles in the third quarter. Suburban senior Alon Gorham picked up his third foul and went to the bench with five minutes left and the Trojans’ offense stalled.

York Suburban's Aidan Hughley, seen here in a file photo, had 13 points on Tuesday in a loss to Cocalico.

Cocalico closed a 7-point gap and took the lead with 34 seconds left and outscored Suburban 14-9 over those eight minutes.

“We had a bad third quarter and Alon was out for most of that,” Kemp said. “He brings a lot to the table. They couldn’t guard him. He does a lot of different things for our team.”

Kemp’s plan of attack headed into the game was to stop senior Carter Nuneville and 6-foot-, 5-inch junior Augustus Gerhart. That pair had 13 and 10 points, respectively.

Kemp's idea nearly worked, but Rios spoiled it. The junior continued to connect on clutch 3-pointers to keep his team close and then eventually clinched the comeback win.

“Some of the time we kind of were betting on those guys to not make those shots and they knocked them down,” Kemp said. “So, sometimes you gotta live with that.” 

The two teams traded the lead in the fourth quarter, and with 20.3 seconds left, Kemp called a timeout with the game tied to try and draw up the winning play. Gorham drove to the rim and was stripped, giving the Eagles a chance to get the final shot and they capitalized.

Suburban senior Aidan Hughley scored 13 points, while Gorham added 11.

Difficult conversation: Kemp said that the postgame conversation was difficult. The players weren’t ready to hear it yet in the locker room, but he hopes once the sting from such a dramatic defeat wears off, they will look back on this special season with pride.

“It was one of the toughest conversations I have ever had,” Kemp said. “It’s just because I care about them so much. I would do anything for them. We tried to accomplish our goal and we fell short. Don’t hang your head to the point where you just think about this game and not the big picture. We accomplished a lot. They should be proud of themselves. I’m one proud coach.”

Cocalico advances to Thursday's district 5-A final at No. 2 seed Lower Dauphin (18-3), which won its semifinal on Tuesday over No. 3 seed Shippensburg, 59-57. Shippensburg finished 16-3.

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.