Friends Academy's Jackson O'Brien had 12 points and four blocks...

Friends Academy's Jackson O'Brien had 12 points and four blocks against Wayne in the state Class A boys basketball semifinals in Glens Falls on Friday, March 15, 2023. Wayne eliminated the Quakers, 61-48. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

GLENS FALLS  — The three captains walked back out on the court one last time after the game ended. Jackson O’Brien, Jake Bock and Kyle Kramer merged for a group hug after posing with the plaque that came with being a state semifinalist — not the one they wanted.

They were here at Cool Insuring Arena as sophomores two years ago. Friends Academy lost by one in the state Class B championship game. This time, this boys basketball team bowed out as a Final Four team in Class A.

The Quakers’ 18-game winning streak and brilliant season came to a halt Friday when they fell to Wayne, 61-48.

“It’s tough going down with the (two) guys you’ve been with since sophomore year, coming up here, having guys ahead of us,” said O’Brien, the 6-5 senior forward. “I’ve played with my point guard, 23 (Bock) since I was 10-years-old.

“So it’s a tough thing for me to see that plaque getting handed to us and it’s not the winning one.”

Wayne (24-2) from Section V will have a mountain standing between it and the championship plaque Saturday. Section II winner Glens Falls is 26-0 after crushing Maine-Endwell, 91-46, in Friday’s other semifinal.

“We don’t fear anyone,” Wayne’s Cam Blankenberg said.

The 6-5 sophomore point guard crushed Friends Academy’s hopes, going off for 26 of his 30 points in the second half. Blankenberg also contributed eight rebounds and five assists.

“He’s just so big,” Quakers coach Matt Johnsen said. “Whoever we put on him, it was a really tough matchup for us. He’s an excellent player.”

The Quakers got 14 points from Eyan Valadez, 12 points and four blocks from O’Brien and 11 points from Bock.

They led 24-21 at the break and were up 28-25 early in the third. Then Blankenberg scored seven to power an 11-2 run to close out the quarter with a 36-30 lead.

PJ Ostrowski, who scored 21, then put in two layups to start the fourth quarter for a 40-30 lead. O’Brien delivered a straight-on three. But Blankenberg countered with a layup and a three from the left corner, and the Eagles had a 45-33 advantage with 5:07 left.

“I knew coming into the second half, they needed me,” Blankenberg said.

So Friends finished at 20-5.

“This is tough to end it like this, but the message is, only four teams have this (semifinalist plaque) or are even eligible to get this,” Johnsen said. “ . . . We have a lot to be proud of.”


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