Friends Academy holds off Southampton for Long Island 'B' basketball title
First, 6-8 junior center C.J. Williams had to take a seat after being called for his fourth foul with Friends Academy up six and 4:40 left in the third. Then junior guard Malachi Polson joined him as a spectator 2 1/2 minutes later with the lead still at six. Four fouls, too.
The question was, when would they return? The other question was, could the Nassau champion Quakers survive this double hit against Suffolk champion Southampton in Wednesday night’s Long Island Class B title game/Southeast Regional semifinal at Centereach?
"I’m too old for this," Quakers coach Matt Johnsen said afterward.
The Mariners made a run. Finally, Williams and Polson returned with 4:23 remaining and the edge at just four. Friends Academy pulled away and emerged with a 56-46 victory, good for the program’s first Long Island title since its Class C state championship season in 2010-11.
"It’s been a long time coming — three-year varsity starter," Williams said. "I think every varsity athlete’s dream is to leave some type of legacy, something that when you bring your kids back to the school, you can point up there [to the banner] and be like, ‘I was a part of that.’ "
Williams scored 17. Gabe Ferencz added 15, and Logan Mott had 10.
Now the Quakers (21-2) will play Saturday against the winner of Thursday’s regional semi between Bronxville of Section I and Rondout Valley of Section IX. The regional final will be played at Yorktown if Bronxville wins or at SS Seward if Rondout Valley wins.
"We’re going to be a tough out," Johnsen said.
The lead was 39-29 late in the third after Ferencz nailed a three. But LeBron Napier, who scored 17 for the Mariners (20-4), chipped it down to 42-37 on a jumper with 6:06 left. When Derek Reed, who scored 14, buried a three, it was down to 46-42 with 4:39 left.
Re-enter Williams and Polson.
Williams scored inside two seconds later off an inbounds pass. Ryan Smith countered with a layup. But Mott drove the left baseline for two, Williams drove the lane for two more and Ferencz hit a short shot off glass — 54-44, 1:52 left.
It had only been 23-22 Friends at halftime before it went on a 12-3 run to open a 35-25 advantage.
"We’ve been looking forward to this for three years," Ferencz said. "I knew it was going to happen this year. We played our hearts out."