The applause that sounded through Sidwell Friends's closed locker room door after a 71-53 win over Bullis on Saturday evening was a stark contrast from the team's conversation the previous day.

Coach Eric Singletary had ripped into his players — using "some choice words" — during Friday's practice, criticizing their lack of focus and attention to detail while reviewing their game plan against Bullis. He didn't care that they hadn't finished scouting the No. 11 Bulldogs, or that another loss would drop the Quakers, reigning Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference champions, to 4-6.

He sent them home.

So Singletary didn't know what to expect during Saturday's IAC/MAC Challenge game against Bullis, last year's Interstate Athletic Conference winner.

But after guards Saddiq Bey (24 points) and Jason Gibson (18 points) guided perhaps the Quakers' best performance this season, Singletary hopes such outbursts are no longer necessary.

"I apologized to them for my words, but certainly not my intensity," Singletary said. "We're a better team than what we've showed . . . so this is a great game to come back and play Sidwell basketball.

"Hopefully this can be the linchpin for us to get over the hump."

Singletary wasn't feeling well and "was probably a little crotchety" during Friday's practice, but he said his frustration came more from the Quakers (5-5) enduring four straight losses — and lapses in confidence — entering their match with Bullis (10-4).

"As coaches, you just throw things at the wall sometimes and see if they stick," Singletary said. "I didn't do it on purpose, but I hope it had some purpose to it."

His apprehension eased as his team built a lead Saturday at Maret while Bey, a North Carolina State commit, battled foul trouble throughout the second quarter. Gibson had 10 points in the period, including three-pointers on three straight possessions.

"I knew that when Saddiq was out," Gibson said, "I had to step it up."

Fouls also limited Bullis guard Vado Morse, a Mount St. Mary's commit who had a team-high 14 points. Morse drew his second foul about three minutes into the game.

But when the two returned to their respective rotations after halftime with Sidwell Friends up 29-24, Bey took command with nine third-quarter points in what Singletary called the most important stretch of the game.

Morse added nine points in the fourth quarter, but the Quakers, unlike in Friday's practice, didn't let their intensity dip.

"This is a benchmark for us," Bey said. "We should finish out the season pretty strong."

Host Maret beat No. 5 Georgetown Prep, 50-47, to give the MAC a 4-2 edge in the showcase. Flint Hill beat Landon, 71-70, and Potomac School beat St. Albans, 57-51.

For the IAC, No. 10 Episcopal beat Georgetown Day, 77-59, and St. Stephen's/St. Agnes beat No. 13 St. Andrew's, 83-64.