Boys basketball: York rolls past Glenbard West to regional championship

York senior guard A.J. Levine

ST. CHARLES – After finishing 13-18 and being eliminated in the Class 4A regional semifinals last season, the returning players on York’s basketball team went back to work.

“Right after the season, we met and we were just like, ‘that can’t happen again,’” said Dukes guard AJ Levine. “We all got into the gym in the offseason and then before school getting shots up. We knew that we had to play together to make a run.”

The hard work paid off Friday night, as Levine poured in a game-high 21 points to help lift the Dukes (25-7) to a 53-35 regional championship triumph over West Suburban Silver rival Glenbard West (16-15) at St. Charles East.

“We had a tough year last year,” said York coach Mike Dunn, whose team advances to Wednesday’s 6 p.m. Addison Trail sectional semifinals against Batavia. “We sat down after the season and concluded that we’ve got to change the narrative. These kids bought into it and did a fantastic job.”

The second-seeded Dukes led 10-9 after one quarter before outscoring the Hilltoppers, 14-5, in the second quarter to build a 24-14 halftime advantage behind seniors Levine (nine first-half points, seven rebounds) and Brendan Molis (seven first-half points).

Playing York for the third time this season, Glenbard West fell behind 28-16 early in the third quarter before scoring eight unanswered points, capped by Logan Glover’s 3-pointer from the top of the key to trim the deficit to 28-24.

Following a York timeout, the Dukes answered with an 8-0 run of their own that included a 3-point play by Kyle Waltz (seven points, four rebounds, three blocked shots), Levine’s 3-pointer from the corner, and a pair of free throws from the Penn-bound backcourt standout.

“That was big for us,” said Levine, who added a game-high 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and a blocked shot. “We realized we were settling a little bit. If we were going to win this game, we needed to be aggressive and play the way we wanted to play.”

“AJ was fantastic,” said Dunn. “To me, he’s an all-stater — no doubt about it.”

The Hilltoppers began the final quarter with a 3-point play from Dom Seaney to make it 36-27 and trailed by 10 at 39-29 midway through the period before the Dukes delivered the knockout blow with a 14-4 surge over the next 3:30.

“They knew what we were going to do but it was about executing our game plan, flying around on defense, and beating them in the rebounding and turnover battle,” said Levine.

Playing without injured guard Ryan Pechous, Molis finished with 11 points, while seniors Nick Dizonno and Braden Richardson added six and five points, respectively, as the Dukes captured their first regional title since 2019.

Glover led the Hilltoppers with eight points, while Bennett Schwanke, one of two Glenbard seniors, added 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.

“I loved how our kids fought,” said Glenbard coach Jason Opoka, whose team finished 3 of 23 from beyond the arc.

“We understand that we’ve been to the regional championship (game) the past 2 years — we lost a buzzer-beater last year and York kind of beat us up this year. We’ve got to get bigger, faster, stronger and be back at it next year.”