The Yorktown boys basketball team came out on fire during the first half of Monday’s National District tournament contest against Wakefield, knocking down four 3-pointers en route to a 13-point halftime lead.
It was Yorktown’s only 3-pointer of the second half that proved pivotal.
After Wakefield trimmed the Patriots’ lead to one during the final minute of the third quarter, Yorktown senior Daniel Pietropaoli knocked down a 3-pointer from the left wing, giving the Patriots a 54-50 advantage. The Patriots led by at least four for the remainder of the contest and won 67-60 at Yorktown High School.
The Patriots clinched a berth in the Northern Region tournament and advanced to the semifinal round of the district tournament, where they will travel to face No. 2 Mount Vernon on Wednesday. The Patriots and Majors split their two meetings this season, with each team winning on the other’s home court.
Pietropaoli finished with 15 points and a trio of 3-pointers. He scored eight points in the opening period, including two 3-points and jump shot.
"I was feeling it," Pietropaoli said. "I didn’t shoot too well last week. I was getting out there shooting before warmups and I was feeling it. When I was open, I decided to fire away. [Your confidence] goes way up … once you hit one. Sometimes I like to hit closer shots and get my momentum going and then move out, but tonight I was able to hit early from the outside."
Senior guard Nicko Esherick led Yorktown with 18 points, including a 3-pointer that was part of a 9-0 Patriots run to start the game. Kyle Bailey finished with nine points and Jack Earley added eight.
Yorktown led by as many as 15 in the second half, but Wakefield came storming back. After trailing 42-27 early in the third quarter, the Warriors outscored the Patriots 23-9 during five-and-a-half minute stretch, thanks in part to relentless defense. A 3-pointer by Wakefield senior senior Will Ryan cut the Yorktown lead to 51-50 with 1 minute remaining in the third quarter, but the Warriors couldn’t get over the hump. Wakefield twice pulled within four during the final period, but the Patriots knocked down 5 of 6 free-throw attempts in the final 3 minutes to secure the win.
"The only reason I think we survived there at the end was because we got in the bonus," Yorktown head coach Rich Avila said. "I think if they had fouls to give there at the end when they cut it to four or five, I don’t know if we come out on top."
Deontae Murphy led Wakefield with 14 points. Ryan finished with 11 points and Jon Remedios added nine.
Earley is the only returning Yorktown player who saw significant minutes on last year’s team, which reached the region semifinals. The junior guard said the Patriots believe they have what it takes for another successful postseason run.
"We have high expectations for ourselves," Earley said. "We know that we did well last year and we expect that we can do that this year."
Jack Earley earned first-team all-National District honors, along with Wakefield’s Murphy. Yorktown’s Kevin Bailey and Washington-Lee’s Jack Beckman and Jonah Sens were second-team selections.