Friends Academy teammates celebrate their 61-60 win over Southampton in...

Friends Academy teammates celebrate their 61-60 win over Southampton in the Class A boys basketball Long Island Championship on March 9, 2024. Credit: James Escher

Three Friends Academy seniors haven’t forgotten that joy of making it to the state final four in Glens Falls. They also haven’t forgotten about falling one point short as sophomores in the Quakers’ bid to be the last boys basketball team standing in Class B.

Jake Bock, Jackson O’Brien and Kyle Kramer had encouraged their teammates this season to try to make it there, this time in Class A. Now they will have that experience. These seniors will have one last shot to return to the final and win a championship inside Cool Insuring Arena.

“Jake said at practice [Wednesday] when we were breaking it down, ‘I remember every minute of that trip from two years ago like it happened yesterday. I can’t wait to get back up there and do this,’ ” coach Matt Johnsen said.

Friends Academy will have company there from Long Island with championship team dreams as well — Bay Shore, Elmont and Smithtown Christian.

“All season, they have been talking about that trip,” Johnsen said about his three captains. “They’ve been telling the other guys about it, how incredible it is to go up there and play in that arena, and watching the other games and all the great players that are up there, the unfinished business.”

The Quakers (20-4) advanced via a 61-60 victory over Southhampton in the Long Island championship game/Southeast Regional final. Friends Academy will face Section V champ Wayne (23-2) at 10:45 a.m. Friday.

“They like to play in the mud,” Johnsen said. "They like a low-scoring game.”

It will be Elmont (21-4) vs. Section VI winner Jamestown (21-4) at 2:15 p.m. Friday in Class AA.

Smithtown Christian (19-4) will play Section II’s North Warren Central (21-4) at 9 a.m. Saturday in Class D.

And then there’s undefeated Bay Shore in Class AAA. The Marauders will meet Niagara Falls (16-6) of Section VI at 2:15 p.m. Saturday after beating Nassau champ Baldwin on the back of a strong second half.

“If we play that way, we defend and share the ball, hopefully we have a good chance when we get up there,” Bay Shore coach Ken Parham said.

The first step can be slippery. The last step, too.

“Every game is going to be tough,” Johnsen said. “… It’s just sticking with what has got us to this point, just playing our game, playing our roles, sticking to our game plans.”

With Ben Dickson


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