HARRISON — Take one scan of the Harrison gym and the banners are hard to miss. They populate the wall space beneath signs for just about every sport, with football, of course, being among the most decorated.
Ever since they can remember, Matt Stein and the Harrison seniors have pointed to that blank area beneath “boys basketball” as a motivator. They want nothing more than to leave their mark there in nylon.
The Huskies, who haven’t won a sectional title since 1958, moved one step closer to that goal on Wednesday. They survived a scare from No. 12 Somers before a late 3-pointer by Stein proved enough in a 60-56 Class A quarterfinal victory.
Harrison (16-4) will meet top-seeded Eastchester at 8:15 Wednesday at the County Center. So who knows for certain how long it’s been since the program advanced this far?
“Nobody,” coach Gary Chiarella said. “Do you understand that? Maybe one guy.”
The eternal wait ended with three late defensive stops after Stein, who scored a team-high 15, buried a left-wing 3-pointer at the 1:20 mark of the fourth quarter to break a 56-56 tie.
“After I made it, I realized how big it was,” Stein said. “We just had to play defense after that.”
The Huskies did that the ensuing possession, which nearly ended in a steal off a deflection by senior Coby Lefkowitz. Instead, Somers (10-11) inbounded with one second on the shot clock to Anthony Maestri, but his shot attempt rimmed out.
After missing the front end of a 1-and-1, Harrison stripped the Tuskers and regained possession. Nick Esposito sank a free throw that set off a celebration more than four decades in the making.
“My friends who don’t understand what it means to us, it’s the equivalent to going to the Dome for football,” said Lefkowitz, who had 14 points. “This is kind of our Dome and we’re just really excited about this.”
Thanks to 11-of-24 shooting from 3-point land and 16 forced turnovers, Harrison withstood 17 points and 13 rebounds from 6-foot-9 Max Parks. The Tuskers actually held a 37-18 rebounding edge.
Harrison’s Zac Evans and Tyler Stagg also played box-and-one defense on Somers’ Connor Cousin, who hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter but had just one basket in the final three.
“We played our game. They played their game,” Somers coach Chris DiCintio said. “They made a big shot at the end. We didn’t.”
– Postgame thoughts from Harrison’s Coby Lefkowitz and Matt Stein:
And here’s her image of Harrison’s celebration: