Having a Friar with a torn knee ligament isn’t exactly the ideal way for the Fenwick girls basketball team to start the 2006-07 season. But considering the injured party is head coach Dave Power, and the team is returning four starters from last year’s 32-2 squad, it’s probably not going to amount to much of a setback.

A few weeks ago, Power underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus ligament. He was back at practice hours later, prepping his Friars for a return trip to Bloomington-Normal, home of the Class AA State tournament in March.

Prepping this team for a state run isn’t too difficult a task, not when four of the starting five have been to the tournament as recent as the ’04-’05 season. Devereaux Peters, Alison Jackson, and Erin Power started as sophomores then, while Holly Harvey was a much-used reserve guard. The Friars lost to Richwoods in the first round, but it was the second straight season the group had been a part of state tournament action-in ’03-’04, they made it to the semifinals.

Fenwick, ranked No. 2 behind defending state champ Bolingbrook, will rely on the 6-foot Jackson and 6-3 Peters for point production. The duo combined to average 28 points per game for the team last year. Jackson has signed to play for Ohio State next season, while Peters will take to the hardwood with Notre Dame.

Directing traffic at point guard will be team assist leader Erin Power, who at 6-1 is also a prolific defender. She’s slated to play for the University of Pennsylvania in the fall pending the early admissions process. Harvey, Fenwick’s three-point specialist, will start at the other guard.

Filling that last starting spot will likely be freshman newcomer Tricia Liston, a 6-foot forward. But Power has a bevy of young talent to choose from when it comes to plugging in someone with this veteran group. Sophomores with varsity experience include Colleen Forkin and Serasina Nuzzo, both guards. Glynis Gallagher, Morgan Price, Candice Ruff and Lauren Gula, a transfer student from Nazareth, round out Fenwick’s deep bench.

For a team set to take on 14 opponents that are ranked in the top 25, winning their 13th consecutive East Suburban Catholic Conference tournament should be a cinch for the Friars, who will also vie for their eighth straight season with 30 or more victories. Fenwick will also take advantage of the IHSA’s lift on only playing schools within a 500-mile radius. In early February, the Friars will travel to Philadelphia to take on local Springside School for an afternoon game.

But the most anticipated game of the season may come if Fenwick and area rival Trinity meet again in the sectional. Last year, the Blazers upset the Friars 51-50 in the Riverside Brookfield Sectional championship. Power said his team learned a lot from that loss.

“The girls realized that on any given night someone can want a victory more than you,” he said. “We had a bad habit of scoring a lot of points on teams early and then allowing them to linger around. This season I think we’re going to be more focused on carrying things through until the final buzzer, and not letting up.”

The Friars travel to Montini on Friday (7 p.m.) to open the season in the Niles North tournament. They’ll play just eight home games this season, with the home opener being against Wheeling on Nov. 21 (7:30 p.m.).