GLENS FALLS, N.Y. -- At first, Lucas Woodhouse said he wanted a close game that would prepare his Harborfields team for Sunday's state Class A championship game.
At first, Justin Ringen said he believed the Tornadoes didn't panic and were in control of Saturday's state semifinal game after building a 19-point lead late in the third quarter. Then he paused and admitted, "Maybe we panicked a little bit."
Harborfields extended its winning streak to 18 games and reached the state Class A final for a second straight year with a 57-53 win over Rochester Bishop Kearney. But a game that looked as if it would be a rout wound up being more like a root canal.
"We let up a little. We didn't handle the big lead very well," said Ringen, who drilled four three-pointers and had 18 points.
"They came out strong in the fourth quarter with tough defensive pressure, and we turned it over a couple of times," said Woodhouse, who shot 6-for-10, scored 15 points and contributed five assists, a low number for him. That was partially because of Bishop Kearney's shot-blocking front line and partially because Harborfields didn't shoot well in the first and fourth quarters.
The Tornadoes (21-2) will face Tappan Zee (25-0) -- which upset No. 1-ranked and four-time defending state champion Jamesville-DeWitt -- in Sunday's Class A final at 1:30 p.m.
To win the first state title in school history, Harborfields will have to play the way it did in the second and third quarters, when it shot well and played exceptional defense.
"That was Harborfields basketball," said Woodhouse, who hit two of the Tornadoes' 10 three-pointers in scoring 10 of his team's first 15 points before others warmed up.
Ringen helped expand a 29-19 halftime lead by hitting a pair of three-pointers to start the third quarter. Kevin Zabransky sank another trey and John Patron finished a sharp-looking tick-tack-toe play -- Woodhouse to David Ba to Patron underneath -- to make it 42-23.
Patron's fadeaway jumper in the lane gave Harborfields a 48-29 lead with 47 seconds left in the third. "I thought we had it in our hands," Woodhouse said.
Instead, the Kings took matters into their hands. With the score 52-35, Antwoine Anderson, who scored 11 of his 16 points in the final period, began a stunning 14-0 run with a driving layup. After consecutive steals led to two free throws and a three-ball from the corner pocket by Anderson that cut it to 52-47, Harborfields coach Chris Agostino was fuming.
"Nothing I said during that timeout is printable," he said. "Let's just say I told them you've got to execute. I knew it would be a defensive game, but we went cold and couldn't make a shot."
After the timeout, Anderson turned another steal into a layup that made it 52-49 with 1:39 left. "They were double-teaming and it caused us some problems," Woodhouse said.
The point guard tried to calm the chaos, beating his man on a drive to the basket, but his shot rimmed out. Then Ba, a springy 6-3 senior, outhustled 6-9 Chinonso Obokoh (12 points, nine rebounds) for the offensive rebound and kicked it back to Woodhouse, who whipped a pass to Zabransky in the right corner. The senior sharpshooter drained his fourth three-pointer with 55 seconds left for a six-point lead.
Even though the Tornadoes missed three of five free throws in the final 16 seconds, Zabransky had given them enough breathing room to -- finally -- exhale.