Visiting Friends battled back from a couple of early spurts by defending MIAA B Conference basketball champion St. Paul’s to hang in for a while with the talented Crusaders, on Friday in Brooklandville.  In the end, however, St. Paul’s was able to pull away for a 63-47 win as it opened league play.

The Crusaders were coming off a 12-point win over Calvert Hall, the defending Baltimore Catholic League champs, and they got out of the gate quickly against the Quakers with a 14-4 lead midway through the opening period.  Friends’ Jon Schmidt and Andrew Shaver brought the Quakers back to within four before the quarter ended.

Coach Seth Goldberg’s squad ran off eight straight points in the second quarter to grab an 11-point lead, but the Quakers wouldn’t quit.  Bill Pace’s club pulled back within four, early in the second half, before the Crusaders went on another run to take a commanding 46-34 lead after three quarters.

Nigel Sydnor  led the Crusaders with 23 points and was 10- for-12 from the free throw line, and Tanner Brooks added 14.  Sydnor, Brooks and Cliff Cornish (a former Cardinal Gibbons Crusader) combined for 17 fourth quarter points as St. Pauls finally put away from a feisty Friends’ quint.

“Every game in our league is tough,” said Goldberg. “Friends played tough; they shot the ball well, they were physical, and I take my hat off to them. We made mistakes tonight.  It’s early in the season, and I was glad to see our guys stay together, not show our frustration and find a way to pull it out.”

Schmidt and Shaver each tallied 13 for the Quakers.

The Crusaders travel to East Baltimore to face Archbishop Curley on Monday night in a rematch of last season’s B Conference championship game.

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St. Paul’s 63, Friends 47
St. Paul’s1614161763
J. Orrson 2, Fletchko 3, J. Schmidt 13, Mason 4, Shaver 13, P. Orrson 3, McClenney 4, C. Schmidt 5.
St. Paul’s:
Sydnor 23, Cornish 8, Brooks 14, Davis 4, Wade 9 Williams 3, Tucker 2.