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Sidwell Friends continues defensive dominance all the way to its first MAC title since 2016

Quakers 56, Lions 38

Sidwell Friends won the MAC championship with a rugged defensive effort against St. Andrew's on Sunday in Oakton. (Alexander Dacy/FTWP)

All season, the Sidwell Friends boys relied on a suffocating defense to grind out wins. In Sunday’s Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference championship game against St. Andrew’s, the Quakers again turned up the heat in a 56-38 victory in Oakton.

Trailing after one quarter, Sidwell Friends mucked up the inside and forced repeated turnovers and difficult shots by the Lions, who scored just two points over the ensuing 11 minutes.

That defensive pressure helped the No. 2 Quakers pull away for their second MAC title and first since 2016. They also avenged a loss to St. Andrew’s in the 2020 conference championship game.

“Just told them to calm down, be who we are,” Sidwell Coach Eric Singletary said. “What’s carried us all is year is our defense, and that’s where our confidence should come from.”

The Quakers (26-1) rode that intensity to a 20-2 run spanning the second and third quarters. It flipped a two-point deficit to a 16-point advantage, more than enough to keep down the Lions (17-8).

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Then, as St. Andrew’s began to hit some shots, the Quakers’ offense picked up.

Christian Gamble angled to the corner and drained a three-pointer. Cameron Gillus picked off a pass and dribbled it down for a layup. Then Caleb Williams pulled up and drilled a three-pointer, elating the Quakers.

“One run is all it takes because we know our defense is going to get stops,” Williams said. “Once we went on that run in the third quarter, it sort of opened it up.”

Williams poured it on late, sealing the win with eight straight fourth-quarter points to total 13 for the night. He was one of two Sidwell Friends players to provide double-digit scoring, with Gillus leading all players with 19 points.

Williams secured the victory with a rebound and a driving two-handed dunk, soaring above the Lions and eliciting roars of approval from the fans who traveled to Flint Hill.

“It felt amazing. I had to do it for the guys ahead of me,” Williams said.

It was a statement for a team that has dominated throughout the year.

Sidwell allowed 40.4 points per game entering Sunday, and it held St. Andrew’s to its lowest point total all season. Most of that scoring came from two players — Masai Troutman and Marcel Gardner. They combined for 30 of the Lions’ 38 points, much of that coming in desperation as St. Andrews felt the title slipping away in the second half.

The Quakers hope their defense will translate in the D.C. State Athletic Association tournament, where they are the top seed and will get a bye through to Wednesday’s quarterfinals.