ONEIDA | For more than three quarters at OHS Gymnasium Friday night, Oneida and York Institute went back and forth like two prize-fighters, each landing their fair share of blows but unable to knock out the other.
But, in the end, it was Oneida that prevailed, with deadly efficiency down the stretch.
Oneida shot nearly 60% from the field in the second half, and even better in the fourth quarter, turning a tight game into a double-digit lead in the final minute.
In a game that featured 13 lead changes, it was Oneida that caught fire late. First it was Jeric Huling, who scored six fourth quarter points. Then it was Mason Keeton, who led all scorers with 22 points and also had six assists and four steals.
For the final four minutes of the game, it seemed that Oneida could not miss. And York saw what was a neck-and-neck game turn relatively lopsided in the closing stages.
For the Indians, the game was their fifth straight win. Caden Rector had a season-high 15 points, while Huling finished with 10 points, all in the second half.
Hayden Brawner had a team-high nine rebounds. Zeb Spradlin added eight boards.
York, which is a defending state tournament team that is rebuilding after absorbing heavy losses due to graduation, led by as much as four points late in the first half, but could never pull away from Oneida.
The Indians played nine, and seven of them wound up in the scoring column.
A big part of the game was Oneida's offensive focus in the second half. After going 2 of 10 from 3-point range in the first half and getting to the free throw line only four times, compared to 14 for York, Oneida began to make a concerted effort to attack the paint in the second half. The Indians attempted only four 3-pointers in the third and fourth quarters, making three of them, and got to the free throw line 14 times, making 11.
Oneida out-scored York in the fourth quarter, 26-17.
ONEIDA (69): M. Keeton 22, Rector 15, Huling 10, Gr. Keeton 9, Brawner 6, Spradlin 5, Bell 2.
YORK (59): Bilbrey 13, York 13, Wattenbarger 12, Byrd 10, Conatser 7, Leffew 2, Beaty 2.