ALBANY -- Anthony Pate had a premonition. "We actually talked about what would happen if I had the ball at the end of the game," the Lutheran shooting guard said of a pregame chat with teammates. "I told them I'd make it. Wow. That's a little foreshadowing."
The Canadian-born Pate sank a three-pointer from the left corner, right in front of his team's bench, with 1.1 seconds left to give Lutheran a drama-filled 62-61 victory over Harborfields Saturday night in the state Federation Class A championship game at the Times Union Center.
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"Catch it. Make sure to get it up in the air. Keep the form," the lefthanded Pate said of his mind-set when he took a pass from K.J. Lee, who kicked it to the player with the hot hand. "When I let it go, I did think it was going in. I don't know what I'm thinking right now. I'm just happy."
Pate, who came off the bench to score 18 points, including 4-for-8 shooting from downtown, was the player coach John Buck wanted to have the ball when Lutheran (23-6), trailing by two, got it after a timeout with 12.1 seconds left.
"We tried a high ball screen for Anthony to take it to the basket," said Buck, who has guided the Crusaders to two straight Federation crowns. "We were going to try to tie it. They clogged it up so Anthony passed it to Brandon [Alford]. He drove and kicked it to K.J."
Lee said he had a step on his defender as he drove from the top of the key. "I had an elbow jumper,'' he said, "but I saw Anthony open in the corner. I had confidence in him. He has a beautiful-looking shot."
Buck sure thought so. "It barely touched net. It was bottoms. It's the most clutch shot I've ever seen," the coach said. "I'm so proud of him. He's from a different country. He didn't play much at the beginning of the season. He didn't start this game."
But what a finisher Pate proved to be.
Said Harborfields coach Chris Agostino, "We just got caught on a pick-and-roll and he got free behind a screen. The kid made a great shot."
Harborfields' John Patron, playing with four fouls, scored 15 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, including his team's last 12. He gave the Tornadoes (23-3) a 61-59 lead with a tip-in of his own missed putback, setting the stage for Pate's big shot.
It didn't look as though the Crusaders would need such theatrics when they took a 52-41 lead on Pate's pull-up jumper less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
But then Patron put Harborfields on his back. He sparked a remarkable 15-0 run with a driving layup, a right-wing three, another three after grabbing an offensive rebound and dribbling to the left corner, and a three-point play that gave the Tornadoes a 59-54 lead.
"I knew we'd fight through it when John got his fourth foul ," Agostino said.
Justin Ringen (16 points, four threes), Lucas Woodhouse (10 points, nine assists) and David Ba (eight points, two slick feeds to Patron) contributed to Harborfields' comeback. Lee had 10 points for Lutheran and freshman point guard Chris Atkinson made three from downtown, including a big one with 1:51 left that cut Harborfields' lead to 59-57. Ryan DeNicola (12 points, eight rebounds) tied it at 59 on a putback before Patron's tip-in nearly won it for Harborfields.
But it wasn't too late for the great Pate. "When he made the shot,'' Lee said, "I was going crazy in my head."
And after Woodhouse's desperation shot from the backcourt fell far short, all the Crusaders went crazy on the court.