Levine’s last-second free throws lift York over Lake Zurich

York and Lake Zurich are two teams striving for great things this season. Both are among the best in their respective conferences, and they have high hopes come state tournament time.

So when the teams met for a nonconference tilt Saturday in Elmhurst, they were expected to be neck and neck. That’s exactly what happened, and it was the Dukes who won a thrilling contest, 64-62.

“Lake Zurich's a sectional type of team, and we're trying to prepare ourselves and season ourselves to do that,” said York coach Mike Dunn, whose team was one day removed from beating Hinsdale Central at home. “So I'm extremely proud, and our kids had a great weekend.”

For four quarters, neither team was able to gain an advantage for very long. It only was appropriate that the game be tied at 62 with 12.2 seconds remaining.

With the Bears (15-6) inbounding underneath the basket and with a chance to take the lead, four straight timeouts between them and the Dukes (20-4) were called, raising the tension inside the Campbell Gym.

When action finally resumed, the inbound pass was broken up, and suddenly, it was the Dukes who had a shot to win. AJ Levine was fouled and made two free throws to put York up two.

The Bears quickly pushed up the court with one more chance to win the game or send it to overtime, but Adrian Riep was called for a travel as he was readying to shoot a corner 3, sealing Lake Zurich’s fate.

“We were kind of frantic there,” said Lake Zurich coach Terry Coughlin. “We were out of timeouts, had to try to make a play.”

Levine scored 23 points to lead York, and Brendan Mollis finished with 16. Together, Levine and Mollis accounted for 17 of the Dukes’ 19 fourth-quarter points. While those players were the most key in crunch time, particularly Levine with his final two free throws, it took the entire team to win.

“ Really did a good job,” Dunn said. “We got, obviously, a steal, and then, AJ making those two free throws as a senior does. He's been fantastic. So can't say enough about our kids. I'm extremely proud of them.”

Anton Streinikov, Lake Zurich’s 6-foot-6 junior, took advantage of his height near the basket and scored a game-high 24 points. Although Streinikov was the only Bear to reach double figures, three of his teammates hit two 3-pointers, including Nick Popovic, who fouled out.

“We gotta go to work on Monday,” said Coughlin, whose team lost on the road to Warren the night before. “That's the only thing we can do. Keep working, keep trying to get better, and if we have that attitude, I think we're gonna like where we end up finishing up.”

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