READING >> Jared Woods' baseline jump shot caught the side of the iron as time expired, enabling host Berks Catholic to escape with a 44-43 win against Eastern York in the first round of the District 3 Class AAA boys' basketball tournament Tuesday night.
Woods, open in the corner as the clock raced toward zero, received the pass from the key and fired just a bit off-target.
It would have been a remarkable comeback. Eastern trailed for most of the evening but stayed within striking distance. Berks Catholic, with superior paint presence in big man Connor Jack, owned the board and kept most of the Golden Knights' offensive opportunities to one-and-done.
The Saints pushed their edge to double digits, at 38-27, with 5:40 to play before Eastern began its subversive comeback.
Broguen Nicholas, held to a quiet five points in the first half, began the comeback with a deep 3-pointer. Colby Shimmel — who contributed off the bench when Kyle Trebilcock was saddled with foul trouble — hit one of two free throws to pull the Knights within seven at 38-31.
Nicholas was just warming up. Eastern's gunner nailed two additional 3-balls in the final 1:22, including one off a steal, and suddenly the York County visitors were with three at 44-41 with less than a minute to play.
Berks Catholic contributed by missing its final seven free throws, part of miserable 4-of-13 showing from the charity stripe. Isaac Lutz missed a pair in the double bonus with 24 seconds left.
Woods drew a foul at the other end following a Knights' timeout, and just like that it was a one-point game.
The Saints' Pop Lacey was fouled with 7 seconds left and missed both of his free throws.
The Golden Knights called a final timeout, and Nicholas found Woods open in the corner for the final shot that went off the rim.
Eastern's scrappy comeback was accomplished without significant paint presence. Berks Catholic's Jack — the best player for 28 minutes on the Santander Arena floor in last week's Berks League championship loss to Reading — managed to draw three fouls on Trebilcock in a 90-second span of the third quarter, forcing Eastern's forward to sit.
Shimmel was forced into service off the bench and actually proved to be a better physical matchup to Jack. Shimmel hit a pair layups in succession bridging the third and fourth quarters to keep things close.
Tyrone Nesby had 12 points for the Saints during the first half and finished with a team-high 18.
Nicholas's scorching-hot finish propelled him to game-high scoring honors with 19 points, 11 of those coming in the final 5:40.
Eastern York (43)
Broguen Nicholas 6 4-5 19, Jared Achterburg 5 1-2 11, Woods 2 2-2 6, Shimmel 2 1-2 5, Rhein 1 0-0 2, Kurnik 0 0-0 0, Springer 0 0-0 0, Trebilcock 0 0-0 0, Kalke 0 0-0 0, Particelli 0 0-0 0, Lowe 0 0-0 0.
Totals — 16 8-11 43.
Berks Catholic (44)
Tyrone Nesby 8 1-1 18, Isaac Lutz 4 0-3 10, Lacey 3 0-2 6, Reedy 3 0-3 6, Rivera 1 0-0 2, Jack 0 2-4 2, Suriel 0 0-0 0, Wilson 0 0-0 0, Gilbert 0 0-0 0, Nein 0 0-0 0, Huntsman 0 0-0 0, Hobson 0 0-0 0, Twyman 0 0-0 0.
Totals — 19 3-13 44.
Eastern York851218—43Berks Catholic12101012—44
3-point goals — EY 3 (Nicholas 3), BC 3 (Lutz 2, Nesby).