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With Fessenden dominating, Harborfields could not lose

Harborfields' Nick Fessenden goes up for a shot

Harborfields' Nick Fessenden goes up for a shot over Byram Hills' Alex O'Brien during a Class A state semifinal in Glens Falls, N.Y. (Mar. 19, 2010) Credit: Pat Orr

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. -- Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.

Nick Fessenden's heart was pumping double-time, and his vision wasn't fuzzy, as it was after suffering a concussion in the county final on March 2.

So as the fictional Coach Taylor would say in the television series "Friday Night Lights," the conditions were such that Fessenden and Harborfields couldn't lose.

In Saturday's boys Class A state semifinal against Armonk Byram Hills, the 6-6 center owned the paint with a game-high 19 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks in leading the Tornadoes to a 55-48 victory.

"We knew they couldn't cover him in the post,'' said Harborfields coach Chris Agostino.

He was right. Despite seeing constant double-teams, Fessenden scored on six layups and three other putbacks off his six offensive rebounds. He was 9-for-16 from the field. His only other point came at the free-throw line.

"I felt great today,'' Fessenden said. "Last game was about getting my wind back up. Now I'm back to full strength.''

After taking an elbow to the head in the county final, Fessenden missed Harborfields' two games in the Suffolk county playoffs. He was cleared to play in the Long Island final last Sunday against Manhasset and scored 12 points, but Agostino said "he still wasn't himself'' after a 10-day layoff.

Knowing Byram Hills had only one starter over 6-1, the gameplan for the guard-heavy Tornadoes was to get the ball to Fessenden on the low block. He scored seven first-half points, but didn't take over the game until a 3:31 stretch in the third quarter when he scored eight points. His last basket of the period gave Harborfields a 34-26 lead.

"In the beginning, I had to get used to [the double team],'' Fessenden said. "Once I did, I was able to play my game, and that's how we won.''

What worked on Saturday may not be the best plan of attack in Sunday's final, and Fessenden knows it. Harborfields' opponent, Jamesville-Dewitt, features 6-10 Dajuan Coleman, who had 19 points and 14 rebounds in a 61-52 semifinal win over Rochester Aquinas. Said Fessenden: "I know the gameplan is going to be completely different.''

Added Agostino: "We're just going to try and take him out of his element as best we can and force him outside."

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