The pressure kept building as Westbrook and York traded baskets and defensive plays.

With 2:33 left, a timeout was called with York leading 41-40. Wildcats Coach Randy Small gathered his players and liked what he heard.

“In the huddle,” he said, “I had all five (players) say ‘we’ve been here before. We know what to do.’ ”

And they did. York never surrendered that tenuous lead and beat the Blazes 47-44 on Friday night in a Class A South boys’ basketball quarterfinal at the Portland Expo.

Trevor LaBonte led York with 15 points. Reid Hogan scored 12.

Zac Manoogian led Westbrook with 19 points. His last-second 3-point try over the outstretched hands of two defenders bounced off the back of the rim.

Fourth-seeded York (12-7), which lost in overtime in last year’s quarterfinals, advances to meet top-ranked Greely (19-0) in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Cross Insurance Arena.

This game was tight from the start. Heading into the fourth quarter, the score was 31-31.

“Hats off to Westbrook. They played hard,” said Small, still remembering a 67-60 loss last month at home to the fifth-ranked Blazes (13-6). “They beat us by seven and it seemed like 40.”

Small made a switch, looking ahead to this game.

“We put in a zone defense about two weeks ago. I’ve never run a zone,” Small said. “But Westbrook beat us (last month) with their penetration.”

The Wildcats indeed put a stop to easy baskets underneath. Even when York didn’t score for the last six minutes of the second quarter, Westbrook couldn’t make a big run, leading 22-19 at the half.

“We missed some opportunities there, missed some shots,” Westbrook Coach Dan LeGage said. “But I was proud of the way the guys performed defensively.”

Both teams tried to hold down the others’ big scorers. Manoogian, a 5-foot-10 guard, was hot early, hitting a 3-pointer and three jumpers in the first quarter.

The Wildcats contained him from there.

“We knew he was going to get his 18 to 20 points,” Hogan said. “But if we limited him, we knew we would have a good shot to win.”

LaBonte, a 6-6 forward, was held to four points in the first half but drove to the basket more.

“We wanted to limit his touches,” LeGage said.

“He got loose in the second half and asserted himself a little bit more … and some of their other guys made some nice shots, too.”

Hogan began the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer. A LaBonte layup and Alex Nickerson 3-pointer made it 39-33 – the largest lead of the game.

Westbrook kept coming back but never caught up.

Jackson McCarty of York went to the foul line with 16 seconds left and the Wildcats up 45-44. He made one and missed the second, but Westbrook was called for a lane violation. McCarty missed again but York tied up the ball on the rebound – and the possession arrow gave York the ball.

McCarty made one more free throw, with six seconds left.

Westbrook raced back up the court but its last, rushed shot was off.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @KevinThomasPPH

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