No matter what happens this season, the future bodes well for the Fenwick boys basketball program. The Friars will showcase a bevy of juniors that helped the sophomore team to a 27-1 record last season, and that was without Xavier Humphrey, who was busy helping lead the varsity squad to an 18-9 overall record as a freshman.
With Humphrey returning as a regular starter, the 6-foot-4-inch forward (13 points per game last season) should be able to bring along the young group fairly quickly. Derek Tartt, a 6-2 junior guard, also spent time on varsity last season and, according to head coach John Quinn, is “ready to be one of the better players in the area.”
With the graduation of Peter Flowers, who accumulated over 1,000 points and 700 rebounds in his high school career, Quinn is happy to have all the help and talent he can get this season.
“I’m referring to this year’s team as a dangerous team,” said Quinn (362-198), who enters into his 22nd year as head coach of the Friars. “In the years to come, I think we can make some noise at the state level.”
“It was really quite surprising that when we had some injuries over the summer, guys that filled in just picked up right where the others had left off. This is really one of the most all-around talented groups that I’ve coached in a long time.”
Finding the right combination of players may be Quinn’s main priority early in the season. Veterans Newman Delany and Nick Caldicott, two stalwart defenders straight from the football field, also return to the team this season. The rest of the skillful bunch includes John Comfort (6-5), Ryan Harbor (6-5), Larry Walker, Matt Condron (6-4), Michael Black (6-4), Tim Kuhfuss, and 6-foot sophomore Evan Okrzesik, the younger brother of Jason, who starred at Fenwick a few years back. Jason is now playing at Northwestern University.
When it comes to the talent in the Chicago Catholic (North) League this season, Quinn doesn’t mince words. “It’ll be a minefield as usual,” he said. His Friars, who finished fourth last season with a final mark of 10-3, will need to battle Loyola Academy. With two Jordans-of the Michael Jordan variety-now on the team in Jeff and Marcus, and a 6-6 center in Peter Sullivan, the Ramblers pack quite a punch. Not to mention, the squad also has former Bears fullback Matt Suhey’s son, Joe, and a possible call-up to varsity in 6-6 freshman Robert Wennington, former Bulls player Bill Wennington’s son.
Fenwick won’t get much respite from non-league opponents this season, not with cross-town rival OPRF (see backpage) on the schedule for the first time in years. The Friars will host the Huskies on Dec. 21 (7:30 p.m.). Whenever these two teams come together, which is usually during regionals, it’s a contest for the history books. Over the summer, Humphrey had to hit a buzzer-beater to down OPRF.
“There’s no question that it’s always a good match-up,” said Quinn. “They (OPRF) have a good team returning too so it should be fun.”
The Friars kick off the season tonight (Wednesday) against North Chicago at the St. Patrick’s Thanksgiving tournament. They’ll face Streamwood on Friday (6 p.m.) and St. Patrick on Saturday (7:30 p.m.). Fenwick will welcome St. Francis de Sales for their home opener on Dec. 8 (7:30 p.m.).