State Colleges

Friends reaches KCAC final

Most of the 12 turnovers from Friends' Chris Jackson and Romar Jones during the Falcons' 92-87 victory over Southwestern on Saturday night in the semifinals of the KCAC Tournament aren't especially noteworthy.

Now, their collective 54 points? No one in attendance at Garvey Gymnasium needed a box score to recall the two decisive performances in the Falcons' victory. Jackson and Jones made each basket memorable.

For as talented as each is with a basketball in his hands, their confidence matches their ability.

It may strike some as arrogance, but it has helped guide the Falcons to the conference championship game on Tuesday against Bethany.

"They deserve to be able to play to the best of their ability," Friends coach Dale Faber said. "What they've done here this year is exceptional, even though sometimes their coach gets shook up over a bad decision. Sometimes it may get a little creative. But some people like abstract art, too."

This philosophy was illustrated by Jones' seventh turnover.

With Friends clinging to a seven-point lead in the final minute, Jones split the defense. But instead of pulling it out to run time off the clock, he faked one way then slung a wild alley-oop pass that sailed out of bounds.

Faber was appalled by the mistake, while Jones shot back, "I'm just trying to make a play."

It's a give-and-take that is painful to watch at times, but has spurred the Falcons to a 17-1 record against KCAC competition.

"If you turn the ball over and walk with your head down, your team is going to be down, too," Jones explained. "But if you're like, 'We'll get it back next possession,' then they'll believe in you."

Jackson and Jones have done everything to inspire faith from their teammates. The duo continually took (and made) the shots in crucial situations for the Falcons. Jones' deep three-pointer gave Friends an 80-65 lead with three minutes left.

"We're always pushing each other," Jackson said. "We all have the same goal in mind. We know what we're playing for and we're all fighting for the same thing."

But then there they were, when Friends just needed to run clock, committing a combined five turnovers in the final two minutes of the game.

That allowed Southwestern's Justin Diggles to make things interesting. He was nearly infallible, shooting 15 of 20 for the game and finishing with a game-high 40 points.

Southwestern never had the chance to tie the game.

"We were playing Toyota basketball," Faber said. "The accelerator was stuck tonight. The brakes didn't work. We just kept going and we created ourselves problems."

Faber admits the frustration stemmed from watching out-of-control turnovers, but said the anger fades away when they drain a shot at the other end.

It's what they'll have to do if the Falcons plan on avenging their only loss in conference play.

"I don't want to feel like that again," Jones said. "Usually we come back in the locker room and we make noise when we win. After we lost to Bethany, we were quiet as a church mouse."

SOUTHWESTERN: Davis 2-7 2-2 6, Miser 4-7 5-10 14, Diggles 15-20 5-7 40, Crowe 1-3 3-3 5, Thurau 1-7 0-0 2, McCormack 4-11 3-4 13, Irvin 0-0 0-0 0, Ballard 2-4 0-0 4, Collins 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 30-63 18-26 87.

FRIENDS: Richardson 2-4 2-2 7, Heard 4-6 6-10 14, Steven 0-3 0-0 0, Jackson 9-14 10-12 32, Onello 2-4 0-0 6, Joens 9-15 1-2 22, Hyde 4-8 1-1 9, Ellis 1-3 0-0 2, Bridges 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-57 20-27 92.

Halftime — Friends 39, Southwestern 27. 3s — SC 9-22 (Diggles 5-7, McCormack 2-7, Miser 1-2, Collins 1-4, Davis 0-1, Thurau 0-1); FU 10-24 (Jackson 4-9, Jones 3-7, Onello 2-4, Richardson 1-3, Steven 0-1). Rebounds — SC 27 (Thurau 9); FU 40 (Jones 10). Assists — SC: 10 (McCormack 3), FU: 22 (Jones 6).

Bethany 83, Saint Mary 68

SAINT MARY: Dougherty 13, LaTorre 10, Hale 8, Greenburg 8, Fisher 6, Avant 22, White 2. Totals 23-61 19-24 68.

BETHANY: Goggins 18, Littlejohn 13, Honeycutt 2, Ferguson 10, Wuilliams 15, Banning 1, Sadowy 10, Schneider 14. Totals 28-57 19-24 83.

Halftime — Bethany 39, Saint Mary 28. 3s — SM 3-17 (Avant 2, Dougherty); BC8-22 (Littlejohn 3, Sadowy 2, Schneider 2, Williams). Rebounds — SM 41 (Avant 13); BC31 (Sadowy 5). Assists — SM: 7 (Dougherty 3), Bethany: 14 (Goggins 5).

KCAC Women

Sterling 72, Friends 60

FRIENDS: Polley-Davis 1-8 2-2 4, Mills 0-0 0-0 0, Snell 4-7 0-0 9, Porter 0-1 0-0 0, Hilst 3-10 6-6 12, Halsig 5-16 2-2 16, Ely 0-2 0-0 0, Selves 4-5 1-2 9, O'Nelio 1-4 0-0 2, Mathews 3-5 2-2 8. Totals 21-58 13-14 60.

STERLING: Ewert 4-6 2-2 10, Curtis 1-2 0-0 2, Herman 5-8 5-6 16, Eilert 0-0 0-0 0, Racette 1-4 0-0 2-2 4, Gasper 1-5 6-7 8, Patrick 4-8 0-0 8, Wiebe 7-14 9-14 24, Magee 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-47 24-31 72.

Halftime — Sterling 38, Friends 32. 3's — Friends 5-12 (Snell, Halsig 4); Sterling 2-8 (Wiebe, Herman). Rebounds — Friends 24 (Mathews 5); Sterling 42 (Wiebe 14). Assists — Friends: 9 (Snell 4), Sterling: 14 (Wiebe 4, Herman 4).

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