Josh McKenzie hoists the Long Island Class A championship plaque...

Josh McKenzie hoists the Long Island Class A championship plaque after Friends Academy’s victory over Southampton on Saturday, March 9, 2004. Credit: James Escher

If nerves were an issue for Friends Academy in the final seconds of the Long Island Class A boys basketball title game Saturday, it was hard to tell.

Naevon Williams’ layup plus a foul shot gave Southampton a one-point lead — its first of the day — with 18.2 seconds left. Friends Academy pushed the ball over half court and called a timeout with 13.9 seconds left.

“We’re gonna run our offense, we’re gonna get our set, we’re in the bonus — we had everything going for us,” Friends Academy coach Matt Johnsen said.

Friends Academy’s Eyan Valadez took 12 dribbles to get underneath the hoop, dishing it to a cutting Josh McKenzie. The senior forward ducked underneath defenders for the go-ahead layup from the left side with 3.8 seconds left.

Following a timeout, Southampton executed the ensuing baseline out-of-bounds play flawlessly. Dominick White passed it to Davon Palmore, who threw it ahead to Alex Franklin for a last-attempt three. Franklin’s shot went off the backboard, around the rim and out as the buzzer sounded. Friends Academy escaped with a 61-60 win in the Long Island Class A championship/Southeast Regional final at Farmingdale State.

“Honestly, I was just like, we got to get it to Eyan,” McKenzie said of his winning bucket. “We got to make this shot because right now we’re down, so we got to do whatever it takes to win. When that ball is right there, you got to make it.”

“That’s the play all week,” Johnsen added. “On film, it’s that extra pass. If you attack, you’re gonna get blocked. But if you attack and find that extra guy on the help, somebody’s gonna be there if you’re in the right spots.”

Jackson O’Brien had 18 points, Kyle Kramer 14 and McKenzie 12 for Friends Academy (20-4). The Quakers face Wayne (Section V) in the state semifinals on Friday at 10:45 a.m. at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls.

Southampton (19-4) charged back from a 12-point first-half deficit. Franklin, who scored seven of his nine points in the fourth quarter, tied the score at 54 — the game’s first non-zero tie — on a fallaway with 3:40 remaining. Franklin also hit a free throw to tie it at 59 with 47.3 seconds left. Kramer drilled two free throws to give Friends Academy a 59-57 lead with 28.3 seconds left before Williams’ three-point play.

Southampton, which has won three straight county titles and the Long Island Class B crown last season, hoped to go to Glens Falls for the second straight season.

“People don’t understand what we went through to get to this point,” Southampton coach Herm Lamison said. “We didn’t have a consistent starting lineup until probably 14 games in the season . . . Just to be able to push through the adversity that we did to get to where we are today, that’s a blessing right there.”

The Quakers had their 2021-22 season end in Glens Falls with a one-point loss to Ichabod Crane in the state championship game. With seniors Jake Bock and O’Brien among the players on that team, the Quakers moved closer to redemption two years later.


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