BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — The motto for Southampton this season might well have been ‘live three or die hard.’
The Mariners relied on long-range shooting all season, and it brought them to the state Class A final four for the first time. Such strategy also brought them into the final 10 seconds of Saturday’s semifinal needing — of course — a three-pointer to tie.
Considering that Southampton already had made 11 from downtown, it wasn’t a question of if the Mariners would shoot a three, it was a question of who.
“We ran the play we wanted. We got the exact shot we wanted,” Southampton coach Herm Lamison said after the 70-67 loss to Our Lady of Lourdes (Poughkeepsie). “We had an open look and just missed. I’ll take that look anytime.”
It was a heart-wrenching end to a heartwarming season for the Mariners (21-4), who reached the state semifinals for the first time since going as a Class B team in 1999. They overcame a 10-point deficit early in the second quarter, trailed 36-31 at halftime and soared to a 47-38 lead with 2:35 left in the third quarter on a dazzling 15-0 run. Southampton led 50-46 entering the fourth quarter.
“The kids are hurting. It’s a painful loss. We died by the three today, but we got a good look at the basket,” Lamison said. “The kids left it on the floor, and that’s where it should be.’’
Aaron Krzyzewski, one of four seniors who played major minutes, sparked the surge with 10 of his 23 points in the third. Krzyzewski, who also grabbed eight rebounds, and senior Timmy Alejo each made three shots from beyond the arc. Classmate Chad Pike had two threes and junior Elijah Wingfield (16 points) sank four from downtown, including two in a row early in the fourth quarter. One of them turned into a four-point play that tied it at 57 with 4:28 left.
Lourdes (20-6) countered with the inside-out combination of Kevin Townes (21 points, including two threes in the fourth) and 6-6, 245-pound center James Anozie, who was a force in the paint with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
Townes drained a three and followed with a steal and layup for a 66-61 lead with 1:59 left. But Krzyzewski scored back-to-back baskets to bring Southampton back.
Anozie scored eight points in the final quarter, none bigger than his strong inside drive that made it 68-65 with 44 seconds left. “We just couldn’t stop the big man,” Wingfield said.
Senior sixth man Andre Franklin, who made seven three-pointers in the Long Island championship game, faked a three and drove for a layup that made it 68-67 with 27 seconds left.
The Mariners had four fouls to give, and they committed them on four consecutive possessions before sending skilled freshman Aidan Hildebrand to the foul line for a one-and-one with 9.8 seconds left. Hildebrand (21 points) sank both, setting up the final sequence.
“We like to get that shot. Maybe it was a little deeper than we wanted,” Wingfield said. “But we shot well on threes all day. We just didn’t hit the last one.”
But the Mariners were a big hit on the East End, bringing a solid core of vocal fans from several of the Hamptons to Central New York.
“We’re the talk of the town,” Wingfield said. “To make it to states is an awesome experience. We played our hearts out. It just wasn’t enough.”