BEACON, N.Y. - Tyrone Perkins and Cyrus Holder each averaged less than 10 points last season as sophomores playing varsity basketball.
That was fine, though. The plan was to have them take their lumps, develop and then hopefully lead Friends Academy for the following two years. After year one, the blueprint can already be labeled a success.
Perkins had 20 points, eight rebounds and four steals and Holder 17 points and 12 rebounds as Friends Academy defeated Putnam Haldane, 71-49, Friday night in a state Class C Southeast Regional final at Beacon High School.
"Coach brought us up early last year to the varsity level for us to develop," Holder said. "We knew we had this year and next year to work hard. I think our overall game has improved so much from last year. The goal has always been to get to the state tournament this year and do it again the next."
Perkins said: "Coach always told me that coming into this year, I could be one of the best players in the conference if I work hard, look for teammates and all of that. I just try to do it all to help this team and do anything I can to make a difference."
Friends Academy (15-2) will play Clyde-Savannah or Buffalo Middle Early College High School in a state semifinal at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Glens Falls Civic Center.
Jon Nierenberg was a constant force on both ends with 12 points and eight steals and Jack Forlines added 12 points.
"That's what it's always been about for us; getting to this state tournament," Perkins said. "It means everything to us to have a chance to keep this going."
For Friends Academy, every time the opponent has possession is another opportunity to create a turnover. The Quakers opened the game with eight steals in the first quarter and led 18-9.
"Getting the lead is the key," Nierenberg said. "We love to get out and run. We have a big, supporting bench and we can all run the floor. Our focus is always the next play. The next play is the most important play."
The Quakers increased the margin with a 14-4 run in the second quarter and led 36-19 at halftime. Holder scored 12 points in the period.
The Quakers led by as many as 24 points midway through the third quarter. Haldane, led by Peter Hoffman's 22 points, cut the deficit to 15 on three occasions, but that's as close as it came down the stretch.
"Once we get that lead, we can play our game and we never stop pushing for more," Nierenberg said.
Friends Academy finished the game with 15 steals. It's the constant hustle, Perkins said, that has carried them this season and leads him to believe a state title is a strong possibility.
"The small little hustle plays for us go a long way and it's been working for us all season. The idea of going after every loose ball," Perkins said. "And now we're here."