Williams helps lead Friends to Class B state final four
YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. — The Southeast Regional final started so well for Friends Academy. By early in the second quarter, the lead was 14. The Quakers looked surely bound for the state final four in Class B boys basketball.
Who knew that an epic struggle was about to unfold against Section I champ Bronxville Sunday on Yorktown High’s court?
But the Quakers had C.J. Williams on their side. The 6-8 junior center delivered a go-ahead three-point play with 55.3 seconds left, and they held on for a 50-46 victory.
They’re going to Glens Falls.
"It feels unreal," Williams said after scoring a team-high 14. "This is stuff you dream of. When I was younger, one time in Sunday School, when I was in eighth grade, we had to write down our goals. And one of my goals was to win a state championship."
Friends Academy (22-2) is two wins away. The program’s lone state title came in 2011. It will play Seton Catholic in the semis at 12:30 Saturday at Cool Insuring Arena.
"I think we’re going to win it all," said Gabe Ferencz, who added 13 points.
Matt Johnsen wasn’t making predictions.
"It’s March 13," the Quakers’ coach said. "Every team is good."
The game was tied at 44 heading for the final minute. The Quakers looked to feed Williams, and he bulled his way in close, scored, got fouled and made the free throw.
"I was just thinking I’ve got to make [the basket]," Williams said. "I didn’t finish that well this game as a whole."
Malachi Polson went 1-for-2 from the line at the 38.7 mark to make it 48-44. Sean McGrath, who scored 14, cut it to two. Ferencz upped the margin to 49-46 by going 1-for-2.
Then the Broncos (21-5) missed four threes in the following sequence. Williams grabbed the last rebound and made a free throw at 0.6 – final four.
"I can’t believe it," Ferencz said.
Friends Academy shot out to a 12-0 lead. It was 25-11 early in the second. But it was down to 32-23 at the half. Both team scored just five in the third. So it was 37-28 going to the fourth.
Bronxville went on a 12-3 run to tie it at 40-40, setting up a tense finish.
"Their double on C.J. was the best we’ve seen this year," Johnsen said. "He’s our crutch."
But they were able to lean on Williams in the end.