By MIKE SMITH
Harrison may be known as a football town but, as the last few weeks have shown, Huskies supporters will always turn out to cheer on a winner.
On Feb. 19, in front of a packed home gym, Harrison’s basketball team clawed its way to the biggest win in the program’s history with a 60-56 win over Somers. The win earned Harrison a chance to play in the Class A semifinals at the County Center, uncharted territory for the Huskies’ squad.
A back-and-forth game saw both teams wrestle for control until Harrison’s Matt Stein hit a three-pointer with 1:10 left on the clock that all but sealed the deal for the Huskies, sending them to the County Center.
Stein, who finished with a team-high 15 points on the night, said the shot was no different than the thousands of threes he has hoisted during practices.
“It just felt like any other shot,” the senior said. “The impact, it didn’t really hit me right then, I kind of don’t remember what happened.”
That three-pointer was one of Harrison’s 11 on the night, as the Huskies squared off with a Somers team that had its own thee-point specialists in Matt Moros and Connor Cousins, as well as a 6-foot-9 big man in Max Parks.
Coby Lefkowitz was right behind Stein with 14 points on the night, and Harrison forced a whopping 16 Somers’ turnovers.
“Offensively, we played really good but we struggled against their defense,” head coach Gary Chiarella said. “When their defense is that tough, it’s good when you’re shooting that well.”
Harrison’s players have executed a balanced offensive attack all season long, something Lefkowitz attributes to the fact that the team has played together for so long–even before taking the court as varsity players.
“There was a point in the year where we were having five players reach double digits, and that’s unheard of at this level,” Lefkowitz said. “If one of our guys is having an off night, someone is going to step up and we go 12 deep.”
If the five athletes on the court weren’t enough, said the Harrison players, the Huskies’ sixth man was also in force on Wednesday as the gymnasium was packed to the rafters with fans donning the maroon and white.
“I can’t remember the last time they’ve had to pull out all four bleachers,” Stein said.
“I’m surprised because it’s February break and so many of our friends were either on vacation or had other commitments,” Lefkowitz said. “But it was great to have so much support from the fans.”
Harrison will be tested on Feb. 26 when the team heads to the County Center to take on top-seeded Eastchester in the Class A semifinals after press time. The Eagles are coming off a 19-point win over Byram Hills and were the top-rated Class A team from wire-to-wire this winter.
“We know they’re number one for a reason,” Lefkowitz said. “We just have to be disciplined and keep it close until the end of the game.”
Against an up-tempo team like Eastchester, Chiarella said, keeping composure will be key for the Huskies.
“They like to press, run and shoot the ball quickly,” he said. “We just have to make sure we can get the rebounds and play some defense.”