An abundance of turnovers, missed layups and foul calls proved too much for Malverne to overcome in last Friday night’s 70-63 loss to Conference B-C frontrunner Friends Academy, which never looked back after scoring the final five points of the opening quarter.
The Quakers, who went 21-for-35 from the foul line, got a game-high 25 points from Tyrone Perkins, 17 from Cyrus Holder, and 16 from Jack Forlines on the way to improving to 7-0 against conference rivals and 11-1 overall. The Mules, who attempted only 16 free throws and drained nine, had junior Kevin Young (15) and seniors Aaron Jackson (13) and Jarmell Richardson (11) score in double figures.
“If we came out in the first half like we did in the second half, we wouldn’t have been in such a tough situation,” Malverne head coach Darrell Lopez said after his team saw its three-game winning streak snapped and slipped to 4-2 in conference games; 5-7 overall. “You can’t afford to turn the ball over and miss as many layups as we did and beat a very good team like Friends.
“We have a lot of things we still need to work on,” he added. “We have to play with more togetherness and tighten up the defense. We’re our own worst enemy sometimes.”
The rematch had a much faster tempo compared to the first meeting won by Friends, 48-37, on Jan. 10. The Mules led that game by three at halftime and limited Perkins to five points, but last Friday night Perkins scored 13 points in the second quarter alone and helped the Quakers to lead by 13 at intermission.
“Perkins didn’t burn us the first time, the other kids did,” Malverne assistant coach Walter Askinoff said. “We had to make an adjustment on him tonight because he was red-hot. We went with a box-and-one, and that helped cool him off for a while, but then some of their other guys stepped up and hit some threes.”
The Mules, who have two big games remaining against defending Nassau Class B champion Wheatley, got within four of the Quakers on two occasions in the third quarter but couldn’t get over the hump. Malverne was whistled for 10 fouls in the quarter, including seven in a span of under four minutes.
Three-pointers by Richardson and junior Chris Hackett made it 38-34 early in the third, and a basket and free throw by junior Kazeem Martelly made it 46-42 with 1:22 remaining. But Friends was quickly back in front by nine — 53-44 — early in the fourth and kept the Mules at an arm’s length.
“We’re not playing as well as we should be playing, but talent-wise we can win Class B,” Askinoff said. “Tonight we lost it at the foul line and boxing out under the boards.
“We’ll see how we bounce back,” Askinoff said. “Wheatley is going to be a big test. They know us well and we know them well.”
The regular-season finale is at home Feb. 10 versus Wheatley. Tip-off is 6:30 p.m.