Photos/Videos: Zack Beavers, Donna Eckert, Chelby Elam, Lennie Malmgren & Krystal Williams
By: Marc Narducci
Early in the season, Friends Select lost several close non-league games, opening with an 0-8 record. As the season progressed, this young team continued to improve, turning those close games into W’s.
The experience from the season truly benefited fourth seeded Friends Select during Friday’s opening round 69-64 OT Friends League playoff victory vs. No. 5 the George School. That advanced the Falcons to Tuesday’s semifinal against top seeded Academy of the New Church at a time to be announced.
“It was electric in the gym and both teams were well-prepared and it was an awesome game,” Friends Select coach Percell Coles said. “It’s a testimony what we have been through the entire season, with playing a lot of great teams close, but not finishing.”
This time the Falcons finished.
Jay Chiles, a 5-10 junior point, guard led FSS with 22 points and three assists, while 6-4 sophomore Ahmeil McLaurin had 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Coles had special mention for senior point guard Tiko Morris-Louis, who scored 12 points, while adding three steals.
“Tiko played really well, and the 12 points didn’t justify all that he did on both ends of the court,” Coles said. “Ahmeil was great, taking a big charge near the and making big foul shots down the stretch.”
Now it is on to face ANC, which will host friends Select in Tuesday's 6 p.m. semifinal. ANC went 8-0 in the Friends League regular season, but Friends Select was highly competitive in a regular season 76-72 loss to the Lions on January 13.
In that game, Chiles was unstoppable with 33 points and four assists. Isaiah Marshall, a 6-1 junior, had 15 points and five rebounds and 6-7 junior Owen Coughlin added 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
“We were winning at the half (by one point),” Coles said.
What hurt the Falcons was being outscored, 22-9 in the third quarter.
Now comes another chance.
“We feel confident,” Coles said. “We know we can play with those guys.”
In that earlier meeting ANC had a big game from 6-5 senior Bahsil Laster, who contributed 23 points and six rebounds. Laster shot 11-for-12 from the foul line. Three sophomores also scored double figures in that game – 6-6 Ryan Warren (13 points), 6-2 Tobe Nwobu (13) and 6-6 Cameron Smith (10).
This is the type of balanced attack that has benefited ANC all season.
Tuesday’s other semifinal was set after Thursday’s regular season action since just five teams qualify for the Friends league playoff.
No, 3 Westtown at No. 2 Friends Central, 5:30
On Jan. 5, Friends Central earned a 73-69 win at Westtown. It was a typically balanced scoring attack from Friends Central, which had four players scoring in double figures, led by 6-4 freshman Pat Feamster’s 19 points. Reid Belcher, a 5-11 senior scored 18, while 6-3 senior Muhsin Muhammad had 11 and 6-1 senior Fazl Oshodi scored 10. Westtown is playing some of its best basketball and this should be just as close as the regular season meeting.
In a 75-52 win over Friends Select 6-7 Lafayette commit Malik Rasul led Westtown with 18 points, while 6-0 junior Jahmare Memphis added 16 and 6-6 junior Cam Wallace scored 15. The Moose also beat George School 67-49 as 6-3 junior Daveyon Lydner scored 16 points and Wallace added 14.
In Westtown’s final regular season Friends League game, the Moose fell to Academy of the New Church, 66-48. Wallace and Lynder each scored 11 points for Westtown.
Friends Central secured the No. 2 seed and finished 7-1 in the regular season with a 66-59 home win over Friends Select. Muhsin Muhammad led the way 19 points, one of four players scoring in double figures. The others were Fazl Oshodi (14 points), Reid Belcher (13) and Pat Feamster with 10.
“We had a tough time scoring in the second half, got a couple of fortunate bounces late in the game and were able to escape with the win,” Friends Central Coach Devin Coleman said. “We have a lot of seniors on our team and it feels good for them to have a chance to end their careers on a high note.”
Earlier, Friends Central earned a comeback win over Shipley. Trailing by four points with just over three minutes left, Friends Central closed the game on a 14-0 run to beat Shipley, 73-63. Feamster had 21 points, while Muhammad and Oshodi each scored 19 points.
“It was a must-win situation to stay in contention for the top so in the league, so I’m glad we were able to figure out a way to put out a win,” Coleman said.
Tristen Guillouette has made a smooth transition to the George School for his senior year. Guillouette, who played the previous two seasons at St. Joseph Prep in the Philadelphia Catholic League, has been a key force inside for the Cougars.
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound Guillouette is averaging about 20 points and 10 rebounds this season for the Cougars.
“Coach (Ben Luber) is really a good coach, the team won the league last year and he knows how to win, and I am playing with a good group of young guys,” Guillouette said. “This has been a good spot for me and I have been fitting in.”
Guillouette’s presence is even more needed since George School has had to play a majority of the season without injured 6-11 junior Luke Bevilacqua, a Division I prospect.
“We have really missed him because he is a great player, with a lot of (scholarship offers),” Guillouette said of Bevilacqua. “Having him 6-11 on the floor is a game-changer.”
Guillouette has been a game-changer in his own right.
“He has made such an impact on our team,” Luber said.
Guillouette thought he had his college decision done when he committed to Fairfield. However, in mid-October, Fairfield head coach Jay Young resigned. Assistant Chris Casey was named the interim head coach for this season.
So Guillouette decided to re-open his recruiting.
Mount St. Mary’s, and Florida Gulf Coast, are among the schools that Guillouette is considering. In January he visited Florida Gulf Coast.
Guilouette says that colleges see him as a power forward, who could possibly play the center position. He is more of a back-to-the-basket performer.
“I am working on my mid-range and making more from there than in the past,” he said.
He says he hopes to expand his game to the three-point level in the future, but right now, Guillouette has been a handful for teams to defend against inside.
On a young George School team, he has been a welcome addition during a strong senior season.
In a 71-55 loss to Academy of the New Church, George School freshman point guard Tyler Sutton scored 22 points, while Guillouette added 15 points. George School rebounded with a 73-44 win over Germantown Friends. Guillouette and sophomore guard Ivan Ryabov each scored 17 points to lead the Cougars, while 6-3 sophomore Kasey Fleming scored 14 points.
Academy of the New Church finished the Friends League regular season 8-0 and earned the top spot in the playoffs after a 66-48 win over Westtown.
Ryan Warren paced the Lions with 19 points and eight rebounds, while 6-0 senior Nolan Waldon scored 14 points and four steals. Bahsil Laster had nine points, six assists and four rebounds. Tobe Nwobu, had 10 points. Cameron Smith had nine points and seven rebounds, and 6-4 sophomore Dior Carter had five points, six rebounds, four steals and a block.
Earlier, the Lions scored a 71-55 win over the George School as Laster scored 25 points and Warren chipped in with 22.
“Ryan has been playing well,” ANC coach Kevin Givens said about Warren. “He showed up against George, rebounded well played great defense and shot the ball well.”
The next night, nine different players scored in an 85-51 win over Abington Friends. Laster led the way with 20 points, while Nwobu scored 16.
Shipley was highly competitive in a 73-63 loss to Friends Central. The game was tied at 52 early in the fourth quarter before Friends Central pulled away. In fact, Shipley led 63-59 with 3:06 left, but on its next six possessions, missed five shots and turned the ball over once.
Leading the way for the Gators was 6-6 junior Henry Rasmussen, who had 20 points and seven rebounds, while 6-1 junior Will Littles added 16 points, four assists and three rebounds. Senior guard Gyasi Miller had 11 points and shot 3-for-5 from three-point range.
A key difference was at the foul line, where Shipley went 5-for-5 and Friends Central was 15-for-20.
The Gators rebounded for a 69-50 win over Barrack Hebrew Academy on Senior Night. Fittingly, it was the seniors who led the win for the Gators. Senior Braelin Hardy had 15 points and eight rebounds, while 6-2 senior Matt Lange had 14 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Yet another senior, 6-0 Jack Flannelly had nine points, five rebounds and two steals and Miller added eight points.
The Gators played great team basketball, with a team-high 19 assists.
In the above-mentioned 69-50 loss to Shipley, Barrack Hebrew Academy’s Tal Kahn did everything he could to keep the Cougars in the game. Kahn scored 32 points and was on fire from the perimeter, with seven, three-point field goals.
Sophomore Jordan Dill has been among the most prolific scorers in the Friends League and whether in victory or defeat, he has enjoyed some impressive showings. One of them came in last week’s 73-43 loss to George School. Dill had a team-high 23 points, including all 10 of the Tigers’ points in the fourth quarter.
In Friday’s 64-57 non-league win over Roxborough, Dill led the way with 31 points.
Germantown Friends sophomore Jordan Dill #12 - PSD Photo by Chelby Elam
Zamir Parker-Barnes, a 6-5 junior combo guard, has enjoyed a stellar season for Abington Friends. He has usually been leading the offense and that was the case in an 85-51 loss to Academy of the New Church. Parker-Barnes contributed 22 points. Senior Kaydin Ford chipped in with nine points for the Kangaroos.