Newtown Square >> While Main Line high schools have been closed for the past week due to the holiday break, this has not stopped the Friends’ Central boys’ basketball team’s thirst for learning.
Armed with a roster that features three sophomores who see significant playing time coupled with some experience, Friends’ Central head coach Ryan Tozer hopes his team will take what they learn in practice and apply those theories in games.
On Dec. 20, Friends’ Central traveled to Episcopal and gave the Churchmen everything they could handle before the hosts used their length to their advantage pulling away for the 65-52 win.
“We competed for three quarters before unraveling a little bit in the fourth quarter,” said Tozer. “They switched defenses and their length proved to be too much. We are still young but the guys work hard in practice and its starting to show in games.”
Sophomore Omar Nichols, who finished with 10 points against Episcopal added, “Our coaches have taught us to play hard and close out games. We didn’t get that done today. We just have to play until the final whistle.
Faced with a difficult Friend’s Schools League schedule, Tozer does his best to have his team prepared by playing a challenging non-league schedule. Following the difficult loss to EA, the Phoenix had the best situation for a young team – no time to dwell.
On December 22, Friends’ Central traveled to Chester High School to face Salesianum (DE) in the Scholastic Play by Play Classic. Similar to the EA contest, Friends’ Central found themselves trailing after three.
Curious to see if they learned anything from the EA game, Tozer saw the team he saw the weekend of December 16-17 that posted wins over Solebury School and Princeton Day School, respectively.
“That weekend (December 16-17) was extremely important,” Spriggs said following the Episcopal game. “We were kind of down on each other because we were not playing up to par. We knew we had to go to Springside Chestnut Hill and get the wins. That’s exactly what we did.”
Trailing 36-31 against Salesianum, Friends’ Central stayed composed getting big efforts from Senior Josh Friday, who would earn game MVP honors (11 points, eight rebounds) and Spriggs (15 points) to earn the 46-44 come from behind win and push their record to 6-4.
“Tonight (against Salesianum) was a huge come from behind win for our program,” said Tozer. “I thought we put three good quarters together vs EA. You need to put a complete game together to beat a good team. Over the last week or so our guys have been playing with much more confidence and have been playing together. We have been challenging guys in practice to give us more defensively and they have responded. We held a very good Saliesianum team to 44 points. This team is starting to gel as league play approaches.
With league play right around the corner, it looks as though their non-league schedule was exactly what a relatively young Phoenix team needed.
“Our non-league schedule was great preparation for us,” said Nichols. “We are relatively young but we have great senior leadership in Josh (Frriday) and Toure (Mosley-Banks) who are a big piece of what we are accomplishing.”
Spriggs added, “Everything will come together. We just have to trust the process and watch everything unfold.”
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