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Tori Harris propels Hills West to comeback victory over Ward Melville

Half Hollow Hills West's Tori Harris (2) moves

Half Hollow Hills West's Tori Harris (2) moves the ball in the first quarter during the Suffolk High School girls basketball Class AA quarterfinal playoff game between Ward Melville and Half Hollow Hills West on Wednesday, Feb 22, 2017 at Ward Melville High School Credit: Bob Sorensen

When the games count for this much, there’s no rest for the weary. But that’s okay for Half Hollow Hills West’s Tori Harris — she’s used to it and there’s no place she’d rather be.

Harris played every minute of a Suffolk AA quarterfinal on Wednesday and made each one count, scoring 35 points and propelling the No. 7 Colts to a late comeback and a 62-58 win over host No. 2 Ward Melville. She followed up Channiah Baker’s tie-breaking free throws with two of her own to seal the victory with five seconds left.

“Usually I play up to who we’re playing against and this was a good, high-competitive game,” Harris said. “When my teammates need me that’s when I usually come through.”

Harris, who had 19 rebounds, started scoring early with 10 points in the first four minutes. Despite logging a lot of wear because of a bench shortage, she totaled 26 in the first half. It helped to have Samantha Hinke as a rebounding and passing partner.

Hinke had 16 points, including baskets that tied the game at 43 in the third quarter and 49 with 4:25 left in the fourth. Hills West (18-4) took the lead for the first time since the half with a layup from Harris with 55 seconds left. It stood at 58-56.

“We always knew we could compete with a team like this and we just had to believe in each other,” Hinke said.

Taylor Tripptree, who led Ward Melville (16-4) with 17 points, made two free throws with 40 seconds left to tie it before Baker and Harris sealed it. Not only was Baker unfazed, she put the emphasis on what happened before she made the shots.

“Forget about the shots,” said Baker, who had eight points. “We have to get a stop to get those shots and we stopped them at the defensive end.”

For now, there’s no stopping Hills West, winner of its last five, as it gets set to face No. 3 Central Islip on Saturday at Stony Brook, no matter how many minutes it takes.

“We’re taking it to the next level,” Baker said.

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