Friends coach Al Holley needed someone to emerge as a steadying influence with the Quakers shooting poorly and turning the ball over too much against Carver A&T Thursday in the semifinal of the Park School Holiday Tournament.
Senior guard Brandon Jones stepped forward and scored a season-high 29 points in a 58-55 victory in Brooklandville.
Friends (6-9) advances on to play Park, a 61-56 winner over Grace Bible, in the final Friday at 5 p.m.
Holley hopes Jones has another strong game.
"He took shots that he ordinarily doesn't take and made them," the coach said. "He made some threes. They are good shots and shots we encourage him to take."
Friends couldn't take control against Carver because junior forward Thomas Cook (29 points) matched the performance of Jones.
The Wildcats also received a solid effort from senior point guard Erik Miller (13 points).
The Quakers led 50-43 with 4:28 remaining, but Carver kept the game within reach.
The Wildcats trimmed the lead to 50-47 about a minute later as Miller scored four straight points.
Carver got as close as 58-55 with 1:58 to go. The Wildcats, however, turned the ball over twice and missed its only shot the rest of the way.
"My team comes from a school that is not used to winning," Carver coach Aaron Robinson said. "They just need some confidence at the end of the game."
Jake Bass (8 points), Donavin Tilley (7), Sam Messick (5), Matt Caplan (4), Jamal Gross (3) and Spencer Brock (2) accounted for the remainder of Friends' scoring.
In the other semifinal, Park received double figures in scoring from four players: Jack Curley (15 points), Randy Conney (13), Franchesco Porcurelle (12) and Amani Lawson (10).
The Bruins (6-2) led by as many as eight points in the middle of the final quarter before Grace Bible cut the lead to 55-54 on Cory Marshall's layup with 1:29 left.
Park, though, closed with a 6-2 run to prevail. Porcurelle, a junior shooting guard, sank four free throws in that span.
"At the line, he has been good for us this year," Park coach Derrick Larkins said. "He's always making them down the stretch. We lost to Indian Creek, but he hit two free throws with zero seconds left to send the game into overtime."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun