GLENS FALLS -- David Ba scored just nine points Sunday afternoon. He was 1 for 7 from the free-throw line and pulled down just four rebounds.
But on a day when players were knocking down shots from the roundabout in Glens Falls, a speedy, wiry kid was just what Harborfields needed.
The senior guard harrassed Tappan Zee’s leading scorer, Patrick Peterson, and came up with two big steals and forced a turnover in the final seconds as Harborfields topped Tappan Zee, 67-58, in the Class A final of the State Boys Basketball Tournament. It was the first state championship in school history.
Peterson finished with 20 points on 4 of 14 shooting and wowed the crowd with his range, but it was the shots he didn’t take that made the difference. Ba stayed with him, forcing the senior guard to put the ball on the floor or find someone else to take the shot.
“He’s one of the greatest players I’ve played against so far,” Ba said. “A lot of players out on Long Island can’t shoot like him. He’s a great shooter.”
While Peterson struggled to get his shots off, his teammates stepped up. Billy O’Shea, who joined Peterson on the all-tournament team, gave Tappan Zee a 41-38 lead with less than 6:40 to go in the third quarter. Joe Letizia knocked down three 3-pointers and finished with 14 points and five assists.
“It was obvious they were going to be watching Pat play last night, so we tried to get Brian (McLaughlin) going, Billy (O’Shea) going,” Tappan Zee head coach George Gaine said. “And they played as hard as they could.”
Struggling with foul trouble for most of the game, Harborfields point guard Lucas Woodhouse got going in the fourth quarter. He knocked down a short jumper to tie the game at 46 to open the fourth, and later he knocked down an open 3-pointer to give his squad a 57-53 lead.
The senior guard, who was named tournament MVP with 15 points and 10 assists, admitted he was a little stunned to see Tappan Zee (25-1) in the final. But once those boys in red began knocking down 3s, matching Harborfields shot for shot, he knew they were for real.
“It was one of the best games I’ve ever played in,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for that team, they played hard.”
The two teams combined for 12 3-pointers in the first half. Harborfields (23-2) went 5 for 7 from behind the arc and Tappan Zee as 7 for 15.
“We’ve never played a team that could match us three for three,” Harborfields head coach Chris Agostino said. “Maybe for those watching (it’s fun), but not if you’re the coach; it was heart-wrenching.”
Offensive miscues by Tappan Zee coupled with Harborfields’ unrelenting ability to knock down outside shots down the stretch made the difference. Kevin Zabransky took one shot in the championship game — it was a 3-pointer and he nailed it to give the Tornadoes a 60-55 lead with a little over a minute to go.
“Everybody can shoot on our team,” Agostino said. “When he hit that shot, we knew it was over.”