YORK — Will MacDonald saw the opening and went for it.

Down a point with under 30 seconds to play, why be skittish? As it turned out, Cape Elizabeth’s defense opened wide and MacDonald drove uncontested to the winning basket in York’s 52-51 boys’ basketball victory Friday night.

“I just saw an opportunity and I took it and went 100 miles an hour, and once I got by that first kid, I knew it was there,” MacDonald said.

York, ranked No. 2 in Class A South, is now 9-3. Cape Elizabeth, No. 1 in Class B South, dropped its second straight and is 7-3.

Tim MacDonald goes up for a shot against Cape Elizabeth’s Tanner Carpenter in the first half.

MacDonald’s allusion to speeding is an apt description of these youthful Wildcats. They are energetic, athletic, and on occasion prone to mistakes borne of aggression, like a careless turnover or an offensive charge.

After MacDonald’s layup, York fouled much too quickly and without need, but David Hare missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Cape’s top scorer, Finn Bowe (21 points), also missed a 1-and-1 prior to MacDonald’s layup.

Then York inexplicably threw the ball away with nine seconds left but recovered by surrounding Bowe and causing a steal by Riley Linn as the clock ran out.

“These kids are just having fun playing,” said York Coach Paul Marquis. “Part of it is short memories, but also they’re just excited to be out there doing their thing. We planted some seeds early about never getting too high, never getting too low. We talk about being passionate but not being emotional.”

Cape Elizabeth’s Andrew Hartel reacts on his way to the hoop against York’s Riley Henriques in the first half.

Marquis, hired five days before the first practice after York had an acrimonious split with nine-year coach Randy Small, inherited a team with little varsity experience.

“We just had to come together. We play every day in the offseason,” said MacDonald. “With our coach, we’ve gone really far. And our coach has dealt with that really well.”

MacDonald, a sophomore starting because senior guard Alex Nickerson was out with an ankle injury, scored 12 points. His brother, Tim, a senior, came off the bench and led the Wildcats with 19 points, combining inside moves with three 3-pointers.

Bowe scored 10 points in the first quarter while controlling the offense and creating good open looks for teammates. Liam Jacobson (13 points) hit two of his four 3-pointers in the opening quarter as Cape built a 21-13 lead.

York began to climb back with good rebounding at both ends. Cape, which shot 8 of 13 in the first quarter, cooled to 12 of 38 the rest of the way.

Chris Cummins of York works past Cape Elizabeth’s Liam Jacobso

“We had a number of open shots in the second half that didn’t go down,” said Cape Coach Jim Ray. “We make one of those shots, it’s a game changer. That’s what we play for. We play for open shots, and I would say most of the shots we were getting were open shots.”

York, which scored the game’s first basket, finally regained the lead on a Will MacDonald 3-pointer with 6:45 remaining. The Wildcats went ahead 48-43 on a three-point play by Linn (seven points) and Tim MacDonald’s fast-break layup.

Bowe tied it up with an offensive rebound in transition and a 3-pointer on consecutive trips. Tanner Carpenter put the Capers up 51-48 with a 3 of his own.

Chris Cummins responded promptly with a drive to the basket for York.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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