Hard work pays off

When Kyle Harmon stepped into the Boys Varsity Basketball head coaching position last year he knew the program was in rebuild mode but the former Mount Saint Joseph assistant varsity basketball coach (2010-17) and Friends physical education teacher was not deterred. He had big plans for the Quakes; and while those plans did not result in wins during the 2017-18 season, Harmon and his young squad nevertheless laid a foundation that is already getting results.

Case in point: Friends 2018-19 opening game on November 26 against perennial A Conference powerhouse McDonogh, a team that just three days earlier had crushed B Conference Chapelgate by 46 points. Although the Eagles scored the first 10 points in the game the Quakers came back to take the lead, 12-11, at the first quarter. They continued their run in the 2nd quarter, scoring the first 5 points and leading by 4 before McDonogh regained its composure to tie the game at 18 with 4 minutes left in the half. By the end of the first half Chase Kirkwood ’19 had scored 14 points and the teams were tied at 24. The 3rd quarter started off with a Friends 3-pointer that was then answered by McDonogh. The Quakes held a 3-point lead heading into the final quarter which they extended to 6 points with just under 6 minutes left in the game. A McDonogh full court press led the Quakers to two consecutive turnovers that the Eagles converted into 4 points, narrowing Friends’ lead to 1 point. The teams traded free throws in the final moments, a few of which Friends missed, allowing McDonogh to tie and ultimately scratch out a tough 56-50 win.

Two nights later the Quakes hosted another A conference foe, Boys’ Latin. Affirming to those who’d watched the team two nights earlier that near-win wasn’t fluke the Quakes jumped out early on BL and led the Lakers 19- 15 after the first quarter. BL exploded in the 2nd Quarter, racking up 4 straight 3 pointers and leading at the half, 40-32. The Quakes came out fired up in the 3rd and cut the BL lead to 5, but that would be as close as they would get as the game ended with an 81-56 Lakers win

Undaunted, the team hosted St. Mary’s for their conference opener on Friday, November 30, taking the lead and never looking back for a 72-67 win. Jaden Derry ‘20 scored a career-high 29 points to lead the way. Erik Hunter ‘20 and Chase Kirkwood ‘19 also reached double figures with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Other highlights included the team’s 11 3-pointers and its 8 for 8 game-sealing free throws in the 4th quarter. 

The five-game week would conclude over the weekend as Friends hosted the Quaker Classic tournament. In game one, on Saturday, December 1, Sandy Spring Friends defeated Friends Central 57-56, while hometown Friends gave the Park School Bruins an 84-34 drubbing in a game marked by the breadth of scorers, with Jaden Derry ‘20 (23 points), Chase Kirkwood ‘19 (19), JP Vassor ’20 (10), Erik Hunter ’20 and Nile Joyner Harris '22 (8 each plus strong defense), Quincy Marchelya '20 (6), Bryan Hastings '22 (4), and Kamari Johnson '19 and Caleb George '22 (3 each) all contributing points.

During the finals on Sunday at the Notre Dame University of Maryland campus, our team overcame a 4-point deficit with two minutes to go in overtime as Jaden Derry disrupted a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left on the clock to secure a dramatic 61-60 OT victory over Sandy Spring Friends . In addition to Derry, who finished the evening with 11 points, key players included Chase Kirkwood, who scored a career-high 25 points and held Sandy Springs’ best player Cheick Toure to just 4 points during fourth quarter and OT play., and junior transfer JP Vassor, who finished with 17 points before fouling out in regulation. Jaden Derry was named tournament M.V.P. while Chase Kirkwood received first team all-tournament after scoring 44 points in the two games. Afterward coach Harmon shared, “Winning a tough game like this, in that fashion validates that all the effort put into the offseason workouts, and all the sweat and soreness we have endured has prepared us for this exact moment…Now that we understand how to close out a tight game, we need to build on this momentum.

“Our team has put in the hours in the gym, the weight room, and out on the turf to prepare themselves for moments like this,” says Harmon. “We have worked hard to overcome the adversity of being undersized in almost every game, and we don’t make excuses, we just try to find a way to win.

The Quakers are now 4-2 on the season (2-0 in conference), having defeated Beth T’filoh 74-59 on Wednesday, December 5. On Friday they will travel to Potomac, Md. to play St. Andrews Episcopal School in a 6 pm non-conference game.
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