It took four 3-pointers for Andre Franklin to realize he was having a hot shooting day in the Long Island Class A final.
Southampton coach Herm Lamison knew on Thursday.
“He was shooting the ball like a laser when we were scrimmaging,” Lamison said. “I told my coaching staff if this guy shoots the ball like this on Sunday we’re going to be in good shape.”
Franklin did that and more to lead Southampton to a 60-53 win over Elmont and to a first-ever Long Island ‘A’ title Sunday at Stony Brook’s Island Federal Credit Union Arena.
The Mariners, who won three straight Long Island ‘B’ titles before moving up to Class A for the first time this year, will face Our Lady of Lourdes in the New York State Class A semifinals March 18 at 10:45 a.m. from Floyd L. Maines Arena in Binghamton.
“It’s a huge thing,” Franklin said. “That fact we moved up to Class is even better because we made history in our school. To go to states feels amazing, but we’re still not done. I think we can take home the state championship.”
Franklin, who has thrived in a role as the sixth man for Southampton (21-3) this season, scored 29 points, one shy of his career high, and went 7-of-8 from 3-point range.
“He’s turned the corner 180 degrees,” Lamison said. “I couldn’t be more proud of Andre from where he was last year to where he is this year. He’s led us in scoring in the playoffs, last five games he’s averaging 17 points a game.”
Franklin’s first 3-pointer came with 5:34 left in the second quarter. It was after what Lamison deemed a “horrible first quarter.”
“We took shots that were out of our rhythm and out of our offensive sets,” Lamison said. “We were rushing too much, pressing too much in our minds trying to make plays.”
Franklin clearly heeded his coach’s words, burying three consecutive 3-pointers to electrify the Southampton fans. The third came in response to a thunderous dunk by Elmont’s KC Ndefo, who had 26 points.
“I just had to stay calm and keep shooting,” Franklin said. “You can’t think when you shoot. It feels amazing, but you have to stay focused and poised.”
Franklin’s fourth 3-pointer gave the Mariners a 25-22 lead at the break. The lead ballooned to 18 on a pair of Franklin free throws with 4:49 left. Led by Ndefo, who was 13-of-17 from the foul line and also had eight blocks, Elmont (18-6), which won the NYS Class A title a year ago, clawed to within 10 with 1:15 left.
However, Franklin put the game away from where else, well beyond the 3-point line. His corner triple with 1:04 remaining extended the Mariners lead to 57-44.
“I was just feeling good about my shot,” said Franklin, who had 11 points in the fourth quarter. “I just took the shot to make our lead even bigger so we can have a more comfortable position in the game.”