Andre Franklin doesn’t like to keep track of how many points he’s scored during a game. “It messes up my head,” he said.
Instead, Franklin came off the bench to mess up Elmont’s plans to defend its state Class A title.
The 5-11 senior guard hit a career-best seven three-pointers and scored 11 points in the fourth quarter as Southampton pulled away from Elmont, 60-53, on Sunday in the Long Island Class A championship game at Stony Brook University.
“He was the difference,” Southampton coach Herm Lamison said after the Mariners clinched a trip to Binghamton next Saturday in the state Class A final four. Their only other appearance in the state semifinals was as a Class B team in 1999.
Southampton needed more than the energy boost Franklin usually brings as the sixth man. The Mariners mustered only six points in a sluggish first quarter and their offense was, according to Lamison, “out of rhythm.”
Franklin provided a rocking backbeat when he immediately hit a straightaway three to tie it at 11, the first of his three consecutive shots from beyond the arc to provide a 20-15 lead. Elmont (18-5) tied it at 20 on K.C. Ndefo’s three and re-tied it at 22 on two free throws by William Cook. But Franklin was mint from the left corner for yet another three just before the halftime buzzer for a 25-22 lead. “When I made that one, I kind of knew it would be a good day,” he said.
The third quarter was more about defense and rebounding than long-range shooting, although Franklin hit two more from downtown on consecutive possessions as Southampton held Elmont (19-6) to five points and built a 42-27 lead entering the fourth. “We rebounded well and played good defense, which made up for us not playing very well offensively,” Lamison said.
Missed shots by both teams created many rebounding chances and the Mariners (21-3) seemed to corner the market on caroms. Aaron Krzyzewski grabbed 13 rebounds, Timmy Alejo had 11 points and 12 rebounds and Micah Snowden added nine points and nine rebounds.
Ndefo scored 15 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter as the Spartans made some noise, cutting the deficit to 54-44 with 1:21 left. But the Mariners beat the press, and Franklin — who else? — got open in the left corner to hit one more trifecta.
“I was feeling good about that shot, so I took it,” he said. “The rim seemed to be getting bigger and bigger.”