Derrick Franklin, a 5-8 guard for Central Islip, doesn't even line up along the foul lane when his teammates are shooting free throws. Crashing the boards is not in his job description. But with the Musketeers desperate for points down the stretch, Franklin made a bold decision.
Starting from high on the left wing, he raced toward the lane as Tim McKenzie attempted the front end of a 1-and-1 with 1:08 to play. The ball bounced left off the rim. Franklin timed his sprinting leap perfectly and snared the carom in traffic. He made a pump fake then banked home a key basket that cut his team's deficit to one point.
Moments later, Richard Hobbs' only basket of the game gave No. 8 Central Islip the lead and the hosts held on for a 44-42 victory Saturday over No. 9 Sachem East in a Suffolk Class AA first-round playoff game.
"It's not something I usually do. Spur of the moment thing," said Franklin, who scored 11 points. "We needed the points right then."
Central Islip (14-4) will play at No. 1 Half Hollow Hills West on Tuesday. Sachem East finished 12-7.
That this game turned on a missed free throw was an ironic twist. Central Islip shot only 6-for-17 there; the Flaming Arrows were 3-for-17 and just 2-for-10 in the fourth quarter, when they led 38-28 with 7:20 remaining.
McKenzie led the comeback, scoring seven of his game-high 12 points in the final period. On consecutive possessions, he scrapped to score on putbacks, the second one bringing C.I. to within 40-39 with 2:07 left.
The Arrows missed three consecutive free throws, but went ahead 42-39 after Brian Corbett scored inside off a nice feed from Dan Candemeres (nine points, all on three-pointers) with 1:15 left.
Seconds later, Franklin did his Landry Fields impersonation, then helped with backcourt pressure that forced a Sachem East turnover. Reginald Augustus drove the lane and dished to Hobbs on the baseline for a short jumper that gave the Musketeers a 43-42 lead.
McKenzie made one of two free throws, giving the Arrows an opening. But a runner in the lane that would have forced overtime bounced off the rim just before the final buzzer.
"Some years, I would have hit the timeout button," Central Islip coach James Mott said of his decision to let Augustus keep dribbling in the last minute. "But Reginald is a senior and he makes good decisions."
So did the other senior guard. "What Derrick did, going to get that rebound from the top and timing it so it wasn't a violation, was an astounding play," Mott said. "It wasn't my call. I'm not that smart. He did it on his own."