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Matt Kovatchis (23) of York pressures Kevin Copher (3) of Conant. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
York’s fans had to be nervous, with their team trailing Conant by a point and only 23 seconds left in the title game of York’s 39th Annual Jack Tosh Holiday Classic tournament.
Yet, they had no reason to fear. The eventual tournament MVP was at the free-throw line.
York senior guard David Cohn buried two free throws to give the Dukes a 30-29 win and the first team title of their own Christmas tournament since 1980.
“It feels so good to win this for this high school,” Cohn said. “It’s very rewarding and everybody on our team contributed.”
York (12-3) loves nothing more than running the fast break, but Dukes coach Vince Doran knew that he was up against a team in Conant (10-5) team that has always been a master at slowing the game down.
“[Conant coach] Tom McCormack and I are friends and he’s a great coach,” Doran said. “All of their games here were in the 30s and they’re great at controlling tempo.”
York led 21-13 at halftime and 26-20 after three quarters, but Conant tied the game at 26-26 midway through the fourth on a three-pointer from Joey Ranallo. The Cougars then took the lead at 29-28 on a Kevin Schimel trey, setting up York’s final possession with a minute left to play.
Conant fouled Cohn and he missed the front end of a one-and-one, but York got the rebound and put it back in Cohn’s hands. He was fouled again, and this time he came through with two game-winning free throws.
“My dad is always on me to be mentally strong and mentally tough,” Cohn said. “You have to have the mindset that every one is going to go in. I was nervous but my teammates had confidence and I’m very fortunate that they fell for me.”
Ranallo drove to the rim as time expired but York’s Frank Toohey got a piece of the shot, and it fell just short.
“We did what we needed to to get the win. It was pretty ugly,” Cohn said. “But we won and we’re going to enjoy this because it’s the first time we won this tournament in 32 years.”
In the five-games of the tournament, MVP Cohn averaged 14.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2.4 steals. Teammate Justin Kurash was also named to the all-tournament team, as was Conant’s Robert Hudson.