As the final horn sounded Saturday night, York Suburban's Evan Eberhardinger pulled his white jersey up over his head as Northeastern players sprinted past him to celebrate their 59-56 win in the YAIAA boys' basketball tournament quarterfinals.
Eberhardinger's 3-point attempt from well beyond the line had bounced off the rim as time expired at Red Lion, ending York Suburban's run in the league tournament. It also likely signaled the end of the senior's scholastic basketball career. Eberhardinger had given every thing he had in a game-high, 27-point effort.
Yards away, the Bobcats were high-fiving and hugging as they survived a game that featured two of the hottest teams in the league the past few weeks. Northeastern (16-6) entered Saturday's game with a seven-game winning streak and victories in 11 of its past 12. Suburban (13-10) had won five straight and nine of its past 10.
"I'm proud of the turnaround we made in the month of January," Trojans coach Dustin Boeckel said. "I know this stings a bit and they are in a bit of pain, but they have nothing to be ashamed of or hang their heads about. We played pretty well again tonight."
York Suburban took a 56-55 lead with 1:20 left as P.J. McClain drove the lane for a layup, but Northeastern's Khalid Nwandu responded with a driving layup of his own 31 seconds later to but the Bobcats ahead to stay. Two free throws from Kody Reeser with 10 seconds left made it a three-point game and set the stage for Eberhardinger's long-range attempt.
"Kody is a good shooter," Northeastern coach Jon Eyster said. "He's not afraid of the moment. He's a good defender. He's strong, he's quick. It was a situation where he needed to play in the second half, and he came through."
The Trojans trailed by two points entering the fourth quarter and tied the game on a Jared Bauer basket with 7:02 left, but an offensive rebound and putback by Braheem Riley 52 seconds later regained the lead for Northeastern.
York Suburban took a 54-53 lead with 2:40 left as Eberhardinger made a layup off a turnover that bounced around the rim and fell in as he was fouled. His free throw put York Suburban ahead for 11 seconds before a Derrick Hoffman basket in the paint put Northeastern ahead again.
It was like that all evening as YAIAA Division II champs could not break free from the Trojans. The Bobcats took the lead on the first basket of the game and either led or was tied the entire opening quarter. Nwandu scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the first eight minutes.
"Suburban played hard," Eyster said. "They really played hard. We had 13 turnovers in the game and I'd be willing to bet you at least half of those were on bad decisions we made passing the ball. They capitalized on them. At this point in the season, if you don't take care of the ball and rebound, you're going to go home."
York Suburban watched Northeastern build a four-point lead to start the second quarter, but an Eberhardinger trey and a Kevin Moats bucket cut the lead to one. The Trojans finally tasted their first lead of the game at 25-24 with 4:52 before halftime on a driving layup by sophomore C.J. Boxley.
Northeastern could not regain the lead until Mike Coleman banked in a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left before halftime, putting the Bobcats up 34-33.
The lead switched hands four times in the third quarter. York Suburban led by as many as five points after a 6-0 run to begin the quarter, but Northeastern got a Reeser layup with one second left to take a 47-45 lead into the final eight minutes.
Hoffman matched Nwandu with 18 points to pace the Bobcats, who are ranked No. 9 in the unofficial final District 3 Class AAA power ratings. Boxley had nine points for York Suburban, the YAIAA Division III co-champion. The Trojans are No. 20 in the final power ratings, and the top 18 qualify for the District 3 tournament.
"They threw like three different defenses at us in the halfcourt and at least two different defenses fullcourt," Eyster said. "We did a poor job of organizing ourselves against their defenses in the first half. We did a much better job in the second half."
Khalid Nwandu 7 4-4 18, Riley 3 0-0 6, Kobi Nwandu 0 0-0 0, Marshall 1 0-0 3, Hoffman 6 6-7 18, Coleman 1 0-0 3, Wade 0 0-0 0, Reeser 2 4-4 8, Maxfield 1 0-0 3, Eyster 0 0-0 0. Totals21 14-15 59.
YORK SUBURBAN (56)
Evan Eberhardinger 12 2-3 27, Boxley 4 0-0 9, McDowell 3 0-0 6, Randall 0 0-0 0, Wise 1 0-0 2, Moats 1 0-0 2, McClane 2 0-0 4, Bauer 3 0-0 6. Totals26 2-3 56.
Northeastern 20 14 13 12 -- 59
York Suburban 18 15 12 11 -- 56
3-point goals -- Northeastern 3 (Coleman, Marshall, Maxfield); York Suburban 2 (Eberhardinger, Boxley).