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Westhampton vs Harborfields 3/3/98

Westhampton 82 Harborfields 63

Westhampton's boys basketball team has played on a different plane for the better part of two stellar seasons. It's called championship-caliber basketball.
But the Hurricanes broke down a year ago just when the ride was becoming interesting. They fell in the final seconds to Amityville in the Suffolk Class B title game.
Four starters returned from that team, carrying the unwanted memory of the two-point Amityville loss like a postcard. Coach Rich Wrase would pull it out every once in a while to keep his players focused. And focused they have been.
Against a Harborfields team playing beyond all expectations and with reckless abandon, top-seeded Westhampton held its ground and turned the hard lessons of the past into an 82-63 victory yesterday in the Suffolk Class B final at SUNY-Stony Brook. It was the school's third county championship and the fourth for Wrase, who won a Class D title at Eastport in 1988.
"That was the worst loss I had in my life," Wrase said of the Amityville loss. "This is like redemption for the kids."
"This is something you only dream about," said 6-5 senior Jermain Hollman, who had a monster game in the paint. Playing with a scratched eye, Hollman finished with 21 points, 14 rebounds, 9 steals and 4 blocks.
The Hurricanes, who won their 21st straight and are 41-1 over the last two seasons, actually stared down defeat late in the third quarter. In similar fashion to last year's final, the Hurricanes let a significant lead slip away in the second half. A 10-point halftime bulge shrank to 49-45 on 6-3 senior Arold Robert's putback with 1:33 to go in the quarter.
"Nobody thought any team could be in that position against Westhampton," Harborfields coach Glen Zakian said. "But we came here to win. That was our attitude."
But unlike a year ago, Westhampton answered back thanks to Hollman's inside bucket 16 seconds into the final quarter. Then senior point guard Dale Menendez drove to the basket and came away with a three-point play 14 seconds later, turning Westhampton's too-tight-for-comfort-game into a 57-47 cushion.
"A good team is going to make their run and then you find out what they are made of," Wrase said. "They made their run and then we answered back."
Six-foot sophomore shooting guard Bronson Martin, who has played big in the playoffs, added the finishing touches. He helped bury third-seeded Harborfields (16-3) by scoring 11 of his game-high 25 points (10-for-19 shooting) in the fourth.
"[Westhampton's] trap is like playing against seven people, so that's how we actually practiced for their pressure - five against seven," said Zakian, whose team was making its fourth straight playoff appearance. "We were hoping our speed would be enough, but they were just too big, too strong."
Tamarcus Jones led the Tornadoes with 19 points and nine rebounds. Earl Williamson added 13 points and four steals.
Westhampton will face Class C-D champ Bridgehampton for the Small Schools title at Stony Brook 6 p.m. tomorrow. The winner plays for the county championship against the Class A champ at 3 p.m. Saturday. Box Score
TeamFirst QTSecond QTThird QTFouth QTTotal
Harborfields: Williamson 6-1-13, Sellers 5-2-12, Jones 6-7-19, Farrell 1-0-2, Robert 5-0-10, Caracciola 2-0-4, Wichard 1-0-3. Totals: 26-10-63.
Westhampton:Menendez 5-3-13, Hollman 7-7-21, Ritchie 4-1-9, Sanders 2-4-8, Martin 10-3-25, Liggon 1-0-2, Ford 1-2-4. Totals: 30-20-82.
Three-point goals: Harborfields 1
(Wichard); Westhampton 2 (Martin 2).

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