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Bryce Harris leads Brentwood to Suffolk AA title

Brentwood's Bryce Harris reacts late in win over

Brentwood's Bryce Harris reacts late in win over Half Hollow Hills East during the Suffolk Class AA boys basketball final on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Bryce Harris has played some of his best games this season when it counted most for Brentwood. It’s a big reason the Indians were in Sunday night’s Suffolk Class AA boys basketball title game against two-time defending champion Half Hollow Hills East. But as the third quarter ebbed into the fourth, the 6-5 junior still hadn’t made an impression.

That’s when he finally made his presence felt. Harris had a pair of three-pointers that turned Brentwood deficits into leads during the final three minutes and totaled eight of his 13 points in the final frame as the Indians rallied for a 63-56 win at Farmingdale State.

Brentwood (20-2) captured a Suffolk title for the ninth time and first since 2015. The Indians will face the Nassau Class AA champion for the Long Island “AA” title, but first they will play Suffolk Class B champion Center Moriches on Wednesday for the overall county championship.

As prized as the county title is, second-seeded Brentwood got an extra measure of satisfaction in taking out the fifth-seeded Thunderbirds (19-5), who ended its season each of the previous two years.

“This is redemption,’’ Harris said, “and it feels good.”

Point guard Kenny Lazo added, “This was a chance to show our program could win and nothing is more satisfying.”

Jordan Riley had 18 points and 11 rebounds, Lazo added 15 points and Alan Houston had 12 for Brentwood.

Shane Dean scored 17 points and Max Caspi had 15 for the Thunderbirds.

Hills East was going for three the hard way after taking out fourth-seeded North Babylon and top-seeded Longwood, and it looked as if it might pull it off. Dean hit a three-pointer with 1:17 left in the third quarter to give the Thunderbirds a 44-35 lead and Sam Russo sank another trey with 38 seconds left in the quarter for a 47-38 lead.

“Tough times don’t last; tough people do,” Brentwood coach Anthony Jimenez said. “You got to see that.”

Lazo called the nine-point deficits “devastating” but added, “If this team keeps its head up, we can accomplish anything.”

Hills East certainly lent the Indians a hand by missing seven free throws, including the front end of two one-and-ones in the final quarter. And it couldn’t keep the bigger Indians off the offensive glass, where Brentwood dominated.

Harris’ first bucket of the fourth quarter was a jumper that tied the score at 52 with 4:28 left. After Caspi’s driving layup, Harris hit a three-pointer from the corner for Brentwood’s first lead since 30-28.

After Dean hit Dante Green for a layup to put the Thunderbirds in front, Harris made another three-pointer with 1:31 left for the final lead change.

“It hadn’t been falling for me, but the fourth quarter is about confidence,” he said. “You have to believe you will make it and I did.”

“He did what great players do,” Jimenez said. “They have such a competitive spirit that you can’t keep the greatness down. It will come out.”

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