Harborfields took the lead by traveling on the three-way, but Half Hollow Hills West passed them on the free-way.
Richard Altenord hit two free throws with 5.2 seconds remaining to offset the Tornados’ 11 three-pointers as Hills West captured the Suffolk boys basketball overall championship with a 57-56 victory Friday night at Stony Brook University’s Island FCU Arena.
“I was confident. I’m about an 80-percent foul shooter,” Altenord said before admitting: “I was a little bit nervous.”
The fourth quarter was a genuine test of nerves, even though the game had no impact on either team’s chances of advancing to the state Final Four at Glens Falls. “A great late-game situation,” Hills West coach Bill Mitaritonna said. “It can help us.”
The Suffolk Class AA champion Colts (21-2) will face the Nassau AA champion at 3:30 p.m. on March 6 at LIU Post. At 1 p.m. that day at the same site, Suffolk Class A champion Harborfields (19-4) will face the Nassau Class A champion.
Altenord’s free throws came 14 seconds after Malcolm Wynter hit a three-pointer from the left wing to put Harborfields ahead 56-55. Wynter hit four three-pointers and scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half. Teammate Rob Pecorelli made four treys for 12 points.
Altenord, a 6-4 senior guard, scored 10 points and was one of four Hills West players in double figures. Kian Dalyrimple scored 15 points, Cam Jordan added 14 and Matt Asenjo had 10, including back-to-back jumpers that gave the Colts a 55-53 lead with 1:21 left.
Altenord said he had been in several similar endgame situations during his high school career and mostly had been successful. “But not always,” he said. “We wanted to win because Coach said he had a motive that he would tell us after the game.”
Before addressing his team, Mitaritonna told reporters his motivation for wanting to win this game, even after the Colts scored a statement victory over two-time defending Long Island Class AA champion Brentwood on Tuesday night.
“I wanted everybody to know that we were the best team in Suffolk,” he said. “It’s not easy to get up for a game like this after we played four elimination games in the last week and a half.”
Asked if he was confident that Altenord would deliver, even after Harborfields called a timeout between free throws, Mitaritonna said with a smile, “I knew they were going in.”