McLean boys basketball beats Yorktown in last second thriller

The Highlanders continue their winning season in win over Patriots

Junior point guard Caf Eaton staunchly defends the paint from a Yorktown guard.

On Jan. 10, McLean’s boys basketball team was able to maintain their winning streak in a nail biting game that came down to the last second against Yorktown.

“We did a good job of handling [Yorktown’s] pressure,” assistant coach Eric Stokes said. “We had the ability to make open shots and rebound the ball.”

The Highlanders quickly started off the game with junior Isaac Bell winning the tipoff. Senior Daniel Fimbres scored the first point of the game with his signature fade-back shot, which became a recurring theme throughout the game for him.

The first quarter got off to a rocky start for the Highlanders, as Yorktown promptly scored two three pointers after Fimbres’ shot. However, McLean was able to break through Yorktown’s tight defense that was focused on the top of the key, ending the quarter in the lead 14-11.

“They played up tight and really trapped the ball,” Stokes said. “We worked on getting the ball out of the trap and handling the pressure so that we didn’t have too many turnovers.”

Yorktown came out of their second quarter huddle with a quicker offense and a new strategy for defense that involved covering the back courts tighter than the previous quarter. The Patriots scored straight off the bat, giving the game an air of desperation as both teams struggled to gain a substantial lead. After two three-pointers scored by Bell and a late timeout called by Yorktown, McLean was able to pull ahead of Yorktown by four points, winning the first half 24-20.

“All the players on Yorktown could shoot,” Stokes said. “It made them a challenging opponent.”

The third quarter was filled with fouls and flops that seemed to continue the haphazard nature that had previously controlled the Highlanders’ pulse in the previous quarter. Although they started with the ball, Yorktown quickly swiped it away, leaving the Highlanders to rush to play defense. This resulted in senior Jakob Luu on the floor early on, forcing a substitution in order for him to recover.

In spite of Lu’s apparent injury, McLean was once again able to break through the Yorktown defense. By the 4:30 mark, Luu was subbed back in, and McLean was up 35-24. During this period, the chemistry between the starting players became glaringly obvious. There was an abundance of fast breaks, quick passes, sunk shots, and good communication shown in this quarter. They managed to maintain their lead with a score of 42-33, the quarter ending with senior Demetrios Solomos leaping for the ball, only to be met with the ground.

“As a team I think we moved the ball pretty well and worked really hard on transitions,” Fimbres said.

The final quarter was by far the most exciting. Within the first 30 seconds, Yorktown had lost the ball, McLean had scored, and a timeout had been called. Breaking out of the timeout, Yorktown was able to rapidly score twice, resulting in a timeout called by McLean at 6:43.

From there, both teams increased their intensity in a fast-paced game of back and forth that had the referees frustrated after a Yorktown player tripped McLean junior Caf Eaton. As the game continued, McLean struggled to get the ball past the backcourt and into the net. Eventually, McLean’s head coach, Mike O’Brien, kindly asked his players to stop taking selfish shots and promptly called a timeout at the 5:24.

After an attempted fast break with 2:29 left, Lu was up at the free throw line when Yorktown’s head coach Joe Reed started arguing with the referees. In turn, the McLean student section began taunting him, while the Yorktown assistant coach walked Reed to a seat on the Yorktown bench.

With about a minute left, the Patriots sought out a fast break. However, in a wild maneuver to prevent Yorktown possession, Luu dove for the ball. The small neon crowd roared with appreciation as he struggled to maintain possession.

With only 5.8 seconds left in the game, McLean had fouled Yorktown and they were awarded one point at the free throw line. After, Yorktown’s coach Reed called a timeout with 1.1 seconds on the clock. In a brazen attempt to score a three pointer to bring the game to a tie, Eaton intercepted the ball, ending the game with a 51-54 Highlander victory.

The Highlanders are hitting the road to face off against Washington-Liberty on Friday, Jan. 13, as they look to continue their impressive season.

“I feel like the rest of the season could go really well for us,” senior Matt Mondoro. “I see us hopefully going to the district championship and hopefully regionals.”