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Harborfields plays for first state title

Harborfields' Matt McLeod passes the ball up to

Harborfields' Matt McLeod passes the ball up to Lucas Woodhouse as Nick Fessenden, left, runs up the court against Byram Hills during a Class A state semifinal in Glens Falls, N.Y. (Mar. 19, 2010) Credit: Pat Orr

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. -- They couldn't shake 'em. They got rattled. Then, finally, they rolled.

Harborfields, making its first trip to the state tournament, shot poorly for most of the game, but made a couple of key shots down the stretch in defeating Byram Hills, 55-48, Saturday in the state Class A semifinals at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

The Tornadoes (21-2) led by 12 points in the fourth quarter but turned the ball over on four straight possessions, allowing the Bobcats (18-6) to cut the margin to 44-40. Harborfields coach Chris Agostino had seen enough.

"I don't like to call timeout in situations like that, but I had to," Agostino said of his team huddle with 5:05 left in the fourth quarter that allowed hundreds of white T-shirted students from the Westchester County school to turn up the volume. "All year long I trusted these kids."

But point guard Lucas Woodhouse, who had 10 assists, admitted he momentarily lost his composure. "They rattled us at the end. I got careless and was too loose with my passes," Woodhouse said.

Agostino's timeout message to his teams was simple: "He told us to just relax," Matt McLeod said. "We were making lazy passes."

The Tornadoes' next two passes, however, were sharp. Woodhouse penetrated and fired it to JoJo Savaglio alone in the left corner, right in front of the Harborfields bench. Savaglio nailed the three-pointer. After a Bobcats miss, McLeod drove the middle and found Woodhouse on the left wing for another trey. McLeod concluded the 8-0 run with two free throws for a 52-40 lead. "Coach said to keep attacking," said McLeod, who had 11 points and nine assists.

Before that outside flurry, Harborfields was led by the powerful inside presence of center Nick Fessenden. He scored eight of his game-high 19 points in the third quarter as Harborfields built a 38-30 lead. Fessenden also had 13 rebounds. "Nick was our big safety outlet for us because we didn't shoot well," McLeod said.

The Tornadoes, normally a slick perimeter team, acknowledged they had difficulty with the shooting background as well as some state tournament jitters in making just 4 of 15 three-pointers and 9 of 20 free throws and shooting barely over 40 percent for the game. Agostino is confident they'll do better Sunday in the championship game when they face Jamesville-DeWitt, which has won the last three state crowns.

"Jamesville-DeWitt has no idea who we are. We'll shock the world," Agostino said. "We're a very good perimeter team. They better guard us."

Agostino acknowledged he's on a double mission. He not only wants to win the school's first state boys basketball title. He also wants to prevent Jamesville-Dewitt from winning a fourth straight. The only team ever to do that is Amityville, coached by Chris's brother Jack.

"We want to make sure they don't get it," Chris Agostino said. "We want to take that away from them."

As Woodhouse said, "It's not good enough just to be here. We want to win it all."

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