Friends Academy wins the Nassau Class B boys basketball final...

Friends Academy wins the Nassau Class B boys basketball final against Malverne at Hofstra on Wednesday. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

They showed up with identical records, 18 wins in 20 tries. They split the two-game regular-season series.

Now here they were on Hofstra’s court Wednesday night, playing the rubber game in the title round for Nassau Class B — No. 1 Friends Academy vs. No. 2 Malverne.

The Quakers settled it with balanced offense and tough defense.

Friends Academy won a county championship, the program’s first in 11 years, by beating the Mules 59-46.

"It means a lot," said C.J. Williams, the 6-8 junior center who made his presence felt again at both ends. "I’ve been a three-year starter on varsity. I remember my first playoff game that we lost at Elmont two years ago. And since that day, it’s always been just trying to get back, trying to get the chip.

"This is bigger than just us on the team. It’s for the players … that came before us."

Gabe Ferencz scored 16. Williams scored 14, all in the first half. Malachi Polson scored 13. And so did Logan Mott.

So now the Quakers will meet Suffolk champ Southampton Wednesday at Centereach for the Long Island Class B title.

"I want to put a banner up, even more of them," Williams said.

Malverne trailed by 16 with 4:26 left. But the Mules responded with an 8-0 run, cutting it to 51-43 on two free throws by Josh Croom with 1:52 to go.

But Ferencz hit a three from the left wing with 1:38 remaining for an 11-point lead. Trey Robinson converted a three-point play to slice it to 54-46 with 49.8 on the clock. Ferencz made a free throw, Polson made two and Ferencz made two more.

"That’s an excellent team," Quakers coach Matt Johnsen said of Malverne. "But we believed in it. We prepared really well. They just came out on fire. They played defense like they hadn’t played before."

The Quakers constructed a 13-point advantage in the second quarter, let it slip to 29-22 at halftime, then opened the third with an 8-1 burst to go up by 14 at 37-23.

"We didn’t do a good job on the big guy [Williams] … and the other young man, 24 [Polson], was driving to the basket," Mules associate head coach Walter Aksionoff said. "We [also] just couldn’t hit the side of a barn."

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