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Sledge, Harris brothers lead Hills West to OT win

Half Hollow Hills West's Tobias Harris crashes up

Half Hollow Hills West's Tobias Harris crashes up the middle against Bishop Loughlin during Hills West's 75-72 overtime win. (January 18, 2010) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

There was heat in the house last night, and not just because the Baruch College gymnasium in Manhattan was jammed, raising the already warm inside temperatures.

It was Tobias Harris of Half Hollow Hills West against Jayvaughn Pinkston of Bishop Loughlin, two of the best high school forwards in the country.

They are rivals, too, as both were heavily recruited by Tennessee. When Harris chose the Vols, Pinkston decided on Villanova, fueling speculation that the events were related. Before the game, Harris said, "I don't know anything about that."

But he knew plenty about Pinkston, and vice versa, after a thrilling non-league game. Hills West kept its unbeaten season alive by winning in overtime, 75-72, surviving Harris' fifth foul early in the extra period.

Tavon Sledge, who had 21 points and seven assists, scored the final five points for Hills West (7-0). Tyler Harris, Tobias' younger brother, had 24 points and eight rebounds.

Pinkston had 34 points, mostly on power moves, and hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to tie the score at 68 and force OT. Tobias Harris had 15 of his 19 points after halftime, including two treys in Pinkston's face that helped the Colts take a 62-49 lead.

Pinkston sparked the fourth-quarter comeback for Loughlin (11-3) with two three-point plays that set the stage for his long-range three-pointer. One drew foul No. 4 on Harris. He also outrebounded Harris 14-7.

After the game, Pinkston said he is the better player and the better college prospect. To which Harris replied with a smirk and some sarcasm, "He's better? Why? Because he won the game? No way. I'm the best player, and that's not being cocky. It's not about matchups. It's about winning the game."

He had help in accomplishing that from his brother, who had a terrific all-around game. Tyler scored the first basket of overtime on a spinning layup. Pinkston answered with a free throw and then a strong rebound for a putback that gave the Lions a 71-70 advantage.

That's when the 5-9 Sledge, a crowd favorite for his high-energy, acrobatic shots, drove over the 6-7 Pinkston for a layup and the lead.

Pinkston's free throw tied it at 72 with 38 seconds left. But Sledge again drove the length of the court for a layup and a 74-72 lead with 24 seconds left. Sledge hit a free throw with 7.8 seconds left and then leaped high to grab a rebound after Kareem Canty missed a potential tying three-pointer with two seconds left.

"I love these types of games," said Sledge, who turned 18 yesterday and was serenaded with "Happy Birthday" by Hills West fans after the contest.

Nice gift.

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