by Jody Kessler
The first and last play of the game were a smashing success for Germantown Friends versus Friends Central. The problem was that just about everything in between was not. In a rare oddity GFS began the game with two free throws due to a technical foul, going ahead 2-0. But Friends Central showed its might form there. Coming in as the number one ranked team in the state by Max Preps, Central showed why, using its athleticism and size to over-power the Tigers, 79-44. GFS did play tough and gave a good effort, and on the last play gave something for the home fans to cheer about, when Steven Bonitatibus hit a jumper as time expired.
Central has two Division One recruits, Amile Jeffereson and Devin Coleman. They also have a dynamic point guard, Malique Killing, who started hot with four first quarter three pointers on the way to 26 points. Jefferson had 20 points and three blocks, including some spectacular dunks, looking as if he could jump out of the roof. Jefferson is being recruited by every major college program in the country, including UNC, Duke, UConn and Syracuse. Coleman, who is being recruited by URI, LaSalle, Penn State, Rice, and St. Joe’s, had a very solid game, also scoring 20 and looking very smooth doing it. Gilman Myran led GFS with 14 points. Henry Bushnell had 12 points, including three three pointers.
After starting with the ball from the technical foul, the Tigers did not score. The Phoenix’s Killing then started his hot start with a three from the corner. He then scored again. Then a Phoenix steal led to another hoop. Central raced out to a 13-4 lead. GFS then did a nice job coming back, with threes from Bushnell and Myran. After a Coleman hoop Jefferson showed his athleticism. Killing lofted an alley-oop for him and Jefferson soared to catch it and slam it through, bringing the huge Central crowd to its feet. Myran kept the Tigers in the game though and it was only 23-17 with time winding down in the first quarter. Another Killing three pushed the lead to nine at the end of one.
Central buckled down to start the second, with a 10-2 run. You could tell all along GFS really had no chance, but it was interesting to see how hard they played. They did not back down from the Phoenix, on defense or under the boards. The score was a respectable 41-29 towards the end of the half. Everything was just so tough for Germantown, everything was contested and their size was overmatched at every position. But they played tough. Bushnell was tough at the guard position, as was Hank Goldenberg.
The third quarter was dominated by Central, 19-4. It ended with an amazing play by Killing. The pass was thrown ahead of the defender which Killing caught up to. He raced up court with the seconds ticking off and pulled up for a jumper which he drained. Jefferson started the fourth with a dunk. Halfway through the quarter Central coach Jason Polykoff pulled his starters. The lead had swooned and it was not a game anymore.
GFS coach Brandon Jones was proud of his squad. “Yeah they came out and they fought hard. They played like it was 0-0 down to the buzzer when we hit the shot. It was fun to watch these guys play. They get up for the league games. They get up for the competition. It’s our third game in four games they didn’t play like it. Our captains led us from the tip, I haven’t see them play a game like that the whole season. If we play like this all year, we’ll have a winning record, we’ll surprise a lot of people.”
“We fought hard,” said Goldenberg. “Some of the little things like free throws, rebounding box outs weren’t there but we kept fighting all the way to the end.” Asked if it was difficult going up against the Phoenix he said, “Oh yeah definitely, all these fans come out here. They bring two fan buses, bring a lot of hype, it’s tough but we fought hard.”
Tyler Clauson-Wolf said, “When you play a team that’s as good as them you have to bring you’re A game. I was proud of the way we fought today. We have to play with this intensity every game, if we play like this we can be a threat.”
Myran said, “It was really good by both teams, we’re a young squad so seeing them fight like this is good for the rest of the games this year and next year.” About the possibility of watching Central in awe a bit he said, “I think we were pretty focused. A dunk is only two points, you can’t pay attention to any of that stuff.”
“For us it was a tale of two halves,” said Polykoff. “Whenever we come into games we want to be defensive focused and we didn’t feel we played Central Defense the first half. Second half we played our style defense. We wanted to still play our game, no matter who we’re playing we have to make sure we’re getting better. In the first half our defense did not improve and in the second we did.” When aksed where he thinks his team is in their learning process he said, “I’m pleased, we’re way ahead of what I thought we would be, defensively, learning curve for these guys has been really quick, due to our seniors and captains acting as leaders, teaching the younger guys.”
“This was a preparation game,” said Coleman. “We knew we had to come out and execute. We wanted to play well. Just focus, try to play hard, if we went one on one all game we could have scored that way but it was more important to work on stuff because against better teams we’re going to have to run our stuff and execute.”
Central moved to 9-1 with the win and faced another top 50 team in Washington D.C. Saturday. GFS is now 3-8 and played Mastery Charter South Saturday, who they would wind up losing to as well.