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Albany CBA thrashes Hills West, 71-53

Half Hollow Hills West's Tyler and Tobias Harris

Half Hollow Hills West's Tyler and Tobias Harris look dejected on the bench towards the end of their 71-53 loss to Albany CBA in the Class AA state championship. (Mar. 21, 2010) Photo Credit: Pat Orr Photography

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. - On the same court where a day earlier, Tobias Harris experienced the ultimate high of the first game-winning shot of his high school career, Sunday he experienced the ultimate low.

On the same court where a year earlier, Harris felt the ecstasy of leading Long Island Lutheran to a state title, Sunday he experienced the agony of watching Half Hollow Hills West lose the state championship game.

It was a heart-wrenching and tearful conclusion to a spectacular high school career.

"Yeah, this is the lowest of lows," said Harris, who fouled out late in the third quarter and had to watch, sometimes in tears, as Hills West was soundly defeated by Albany Christian Brothers Academy, 71-53, in the state Class AA final at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

The Colts, after winning their first-ever Long Island championship to reach the states, finished 24-2. CBA (24-1) advances to next weekend's state Federation tournament.

Hills West clearly was frustrated by CBA's impenetrable zone defense and crisp ball movement. The Colts were in foul trouble throughout, and for the third straight game, they produced a season low in points.

Tobias and Tyler Harris each had two fouls in the first quarter, and Tobias picked up his crucial third foul in the final half-minute of a first half that ended with Hills West trailing 27-19. Tobias Harris had a season-low eight points (with six blocks and eight rebounds). Relentless Tavon Sledge scored 25 of his game-high 33 points as the Colts' only legitimate offensive weapon for much of a futile second half.

The third quarter was when things really unraveled. With Hills West trailing 41-29 and 1:10 left in the period, Tobias Harris aggressively made a steal at midcourt. Before he could head for the basket, a whistle sounded. Who knew that whistle signaled the end of his high school playing career?

Harris was called for his fourth foul, and he reacted angrily by running toward his bench and leaping in frustration. As he landed, he stumbled to the floor. An official, apparently believing the display of emotion showed him up, added a technical foul, which by high school rule also counts as a personal foul. On one fateful play, Harris was out of the game.

"It wasn't a foul and I didn't say a word ," a distraught Harris said. "Yeah, I jumped around one time, but it was just the emotion of the moment. It shouldn't have been a technical foul."

With Harris on the bench - and his brother soon to follow with his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter - CBA took control. The Brothers led 45-29 after three and cruised home. Two other Hills West players fouled out early in the fourth as CBA outscored the Colts 29-12 from the foul line.

"I've never had so many starters on the bench that early. But I'm not going to talk about officiating," Hills West coach Bill Mitaritonna said. "You try to stay focused on the court with the kids who are playing, but how could you not see the kids on the bench bawling their eyes out?"

One of them was Tobias Harris. "I just wanted it to end," he said. "If I was in there in the fourth quarter, it could've been a lot different."

Moments after the final buzzer sounded, Harris was so disconsolate in a corner of the court that he was down on all fours, sobbing uncontrollably. He had to be helped to his feet by school officials and directed toward center court when his name was announced for the all-tournament team.

"You've got to stay strong when you lose, but it's so hard," Harris said later. "It was a tough time for me to be watching, and especially to end the season like this."

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