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Tyler Harris is all about staying relaxed

Half Hollow Hill West's Tyler Harris looks to

Half Hollow Hill West's Tyler Harris looks to pass. (March 20, 2010) Photo Credit: Photo by Pat Orr

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. - Tyler Harris spent the minutes after his brother's game-winning putback carrying Brendan, the 3-year-old son of Hills West coach Bill Mitaritonna, on his back.

Harris was relaxing for a bit amid the Colts' celebration of their 59-57 win over Rochester East in yesterday's state Class AA semifinal.

Relaxed. That's also the word Harris used to describe the attitude he wants to bring into today's championship game.

Coming into the weekend, the 6-7 junior forward was somewhat frustrated after a two-point performance against Uniondale in the Long Island Class AA championship game.

Harris' 15 points yesterday, including two big three-pointers in the third quarter of a tight game, certainly helped his cause to settle down. The shots were the Colts' only baskets from beyond the arc.

The first three, from the left corner, tied the score at 32 midway through the third. The second, from the identical spot, gave Hills West a 39-34 lead with 1:16 left in the quarter. Harris fell backwards out of bounds after the second three and pumped his fist as he rose to his feet.

"Those are huge threes in a stretch where we needed to break the game open a little bit,'' Mitaritonna said. "Tyler is a shooter. When shooters are in a little bit of a slump like he was last week, you tell him, 'Keep shooting,' and boom, look what happened.''

Point guard Tavon Sledge had similar thoughts. He said Rochester East's 2-3 zone defense was conducive for Harris to be open in the corners. "His favorite spot,'' Sledge said. "He knocked down some big shots.''

Harris said he spent time every day in the gym this past week, specifically focusing on his shooting. He said he took 300 to 500 shots a day while working with teammates in practices.

"I wanted to make sure I'd be ready,'' said Harris, who shot 5-for-14 from the field and 3-for-4 from the foul line. He added six rebounds and three assists.

His two free throws gave Hills West a 51-42 lead with 5:45 left in the fourth quarter. Rochester East crept back in to tie the score before Tobias Harris won it with eight seconds left.

Now it's on to today's final. "I just gotta make sure I'm relaxed and that I'll be ready for the start,'' Tyler Harris said.

Sledge said of Harris: "The Uniondale game, he maybe had a bad game [offensively] but didn't play bad. He did a lot on the defensive end. With our team, we're not about points. Today, I had a bad game [seven points], but I didn't care. We pick each other up.''

Just as Tyler picked up little Brendan when yesterday's work was done.

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