Fries’ Falcons will be playing for the Georgia Independent Schools Association’s Class AA title at 5 p.m. today at Mercer University in Macon. Furtah Prep has made the state finals twice, winning in 2007 and finishing as the runner-up in 2011.
Today, the Falcons will face First Presbyterian Christian Academy of Hinesville.
Fries said First Presbyterian is a very athletic team.
“The team that we played in the (semifinals), Monsignor Donovan, slowed the ball down on us, and I don’t think that we have to worry about that with First Presbyterian,” Fries said. “They are very athletic and like to run up and down the floor. I think that it is going to be whoever has the most energy at the end is going to win this game.
“We like to run, and they like to run, so it should be a high-scoring game.”
First Presbyterian has one post player followed by a roster full of guards, which gives Furtah the advantage when it comes to height, particularly with 6-foot-9 senior Nils Dejworek and 6-7 junior Amir Savon.
Dejworek and Savon are joined in the starting lineup by seniors Wes Spencer, Sam Wilson and Milos Sikimic.
Fries said the challenge today will be playing solid defense.
“They get to the basket real well,” Fries said of First Presbyterian. “We are going to have to play good defense if we are going to have a chance to win the game. I don’t see our offense being a problem, because we have four or five guys that can score, so the key to this game will be if we can defend these guys for 32 minutes.”
Furtah has had to make a series of long road trips in the playoffs. The Falcons played two games in Tifton — a four-hour drive to south Georgia — before making two trips in less than 48 hours to Macon — a three-hour bus ride.
“It’s tough on the guys,” Fries said. “We go down the night before, and then we play the game. Then they have to be in school the next day. They have to make sure they keep up with their homework and school work and come to practice. Then they get back on the bus 48 hours later and do it all again.
“I’m just very proud of the way they have stayed focused and maintained their goals, but I know it’s tough on them.”
Furtah has plenty of support behind it. The school held a pep rally Friday and will be sending several busloads of fans to Macon for the game.
“I think they guys are ready to play,” Fries said. “I think they are excited. I think they are focused, and I think they are ready to do this.”
After making trips to the state championship game three times in the last eight seasons, Fries said it’s become something the Falcons expect at the end of the season.
“We sit at the beginning of every year and talk about playing the last game of the year,” Fries said. “We circle that date from the first day of conditioning. We emphasize that day from the very first day in October. We feel like we have built a nice tradition here the last few years and a nice expectation. We expect to play hard, and we expect to play well, and we expect to end the season as the champions every year. Some years, that doesn’t happen and we are disappointed, and then we get back to the gym and work harder. But we set out every year to be state champions.”
As the success of the Furtah program has grown, so, too, has the support for it.
In addition to the pep rally and fan following, Furtah’s middle-school program is growing, as is the continued interest the school receives from athletes outside the United States.
“Each team is different,” Fries said, “but I would say there is definitely more excitement now than there was for the 2007 team.”