Friends Academy falls in state Class C semifinal

Friends Academy's Tyrone Perkins is fouled by Middle Friends Academy's Tyrone Perkins is fouled by Middle Early College's Kevin Briggs, left, in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association boys Class C semifinal basketball game on Friday, March 14, 2014, in Glens Falls, N.Y. Photo Credit: Tim Roske

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GLENS FALLS, N.Y. - Jack Forlines was forlorn. The Friends Academy senior sat, inconsolable, during the postgame awards ceremony Friday, head bowed, warm-up jersey pulled over his face, his chest heaving as he sobbed, unable to look up even as his coach moved down the bench to shake hands with every player -- or in Forlines' case, affectionately rub his head. It wasn't just that the Quakers had lost in the state Class C semifinals to Middle Early College. It was the realization that this was the last game of Forlines' high school basketball career.

"The finality of it hurts," Forlines said later outside the locker room, still downcast, still tearing up, a school hoodie pulled over his head. "I've never been with a team I loved so much. I'm truly honored to have played with these guys. I'm just so sad that I'll never get to practice with them again."

The Quakers were unable to duplicate their magical state title-winning ride of 2011, falling to MEC of Buffalo, 72-66, at the Glens Falls Civic Center, despite 18 points from Forlines and fellow senior Jon Nierenberg.

"They're tough kids. They never wanted the season to end," Friends coach Steve Hefele said of the two senior starters on his Long Island championship team that finished 16-3.

Friends struggled defensively in key spots. The Quakers allowed deflating buzzer-beating baskets at the end of the first three quarters -- two layups and a three-pointer by Kevin Briggs that rattled in to end the third period and give the Kats a 47-39 lead. Briggs hurt them even more with his driving ability, scoring 18 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter and drawing so many fouls that he wound up netting 13 of 19 free-throw attempts.

The Quakers also were stung by four long-range three-pointers from 5-6 sophomore Joseph Staton (12 points) and a double-double by 6-4 center Brian Brown (18 points, 16 rebounds). "They got to the rim whenever they wanted. We couldn't stop them," Forlines said.

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Friends trailed 62-51 with 2:45 left, but Tyrone Perkins (16 points) banked home a runner and made a steal that set up Forlines for a step-in three that made it 62-56 with 2:28 left and stirred the small contingent of fans who made the trip from Locust Valley.

Then Briggs took over, converting a three-point play off penetration for a nine-point lead and adding six more free throws down the stretch for MEC (19-5). MEC meets Hoosic Valley in Saturday night's state final.

"We were a little tentative on defense and we couldn't keep them from penetrating," Hefele said. "They made free throws and big shots at big times."

That spoiled Forlines' three-year plan. He was a freshman on the JV when Friends won the state crown in 2011. He recalled seeing his mother holding up a Sunday Newsday with the headline "Quaker State." He refused to look at it. "I told my mom that I wouldn't read it until that was my face in the paper winning the championship," he said. "But this trip was an unbelievable experience. They were already my best friends and this brought us even closer. I'll remember this for the rest of my life."

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