Unbeaten and nationally ranked Half Hollow Hills West has an impressive toolbox and myriad ways to carve out a victory. Tobias Harris can drill you with his inside-outside game. Tyler Harris can nail you with his deft outside touch. But nothing is more entertaining or dramatic than when the Colts pull out the Sledge hammer.
Before a gym-bursting crowd of more than 3,500 Sunday night at Farmingdale State, explosive 5-9 junior point guard Tavon Sledge put on a spectacular show. He scored 21 points, made six steals and had four acrobatic breakaway dunks as No. 1-seeded Hills West pounded No. 13 Bay Shore, 96-48, in a Suffolk Class AA semifinal.
The Colts (21-0) will face No. 2 Longwood (19-2), whose only two losses came in a tournament in Baltimore, in an eagerly awaited championship game Wednesday night at Farmingdale State.
Fans are urged to arrive early. Not just to be assured of a seat, but to be certain of not missing a highlight.
Last night, Sledge was a miniature version of the old Human Highlight Film himself, former Atlanta Hawks star Dominique Wilkins. Sledge did such a good job of entertaining the huge crowd with both his aerial and ground game - he added four assists - that the Colts led by an astonishing 45 points after three quarters (79-34), prompting hundreds to head for the exits.
The Colts had used a 25-9 second quarter to build a 47-26 halftime lead, with Tobias Harris scoring 14 points and Emile Blackman and Sledge adding 12 each. And if Bay Shore had any thoughts of mounting a rally, Sledge dispelled them.
He stole the opening inbounds pass at midcourt and raced in for an artful underhanded layup. On the Marauders' next position, Sledge made another steal and set up Tyler Harris for a breakaway. A minute or so later, Sledge made yet another steal at midcourt and raced in for a thunderous dunk. He then fed Tobias Harris for a layup. Four minutes into the third quarter, Hills West was ahead by 30 . . . and counting.
A 32-8 third quarter made it 79-34 entering the fourth quarter. Sledge and Tobias Harris (21 points) did not play in the final period. Tyler Harris, who had 23 points, stuck around for a few possessions in the quarter. Blackman contributed 16.
It's hard to steal thunder from the Harris brothers, but Sledge succeeded with his lightning-bolt dunks and electrifying steals.
"I love the dunks," Sledge said with a smile. "With a crowd like this, when I see the open court, I just love to dunk."
Sledge was the point man for the Colts' spirited pressure defense, often disrupting Bay Shore in the backcourt.
"I'm an aggressive defender," he said. "When we play like this, it feels like we're unstoppable. The ball was moving."
And the point guard was flying.