The Fenwick girls basketball team finished one victory shy of sweeping the 15th Annual Minuteman Classic held at York High School last weekend. But the Friars still rolled to yet another Minuteman title with an impressive 61-47 victory over Marist in the championship, while the boys squad dropped a 61-43 decision to York in the other final.
Here’s a summer status report on the Friars’ promising hoops outlook heading into next season:
Liston-less Friars three-peat
Since 2004, the Fenwick girls basketball team has won four Minuteman titles. With the win over Marist on Saturday, the Friars captured their third consecutive title.
Fenwick’s Kyra Navarrete led the way with 20 points. Playing without their star Tricia Liston, who is playing with the Illinois Hustle in Orlando, the Friars also earned victories over St. Joseph, Hinsdale South (69-32) and Buffalo Grove (40-36) during the two-day event.
Looking ahead, the Friars’ goals of securing a 16th-consecutive East Suburban Catholic Conference title and making a deep playoff run/winning a state championship will assuredly be part of coach Dave Power’s ambitious agenda.
“I’m very excited about this group,” Power said. “I think we have the ability to make a real solid run for the state title.”
Despite losing talented players Colleen Forkin and Serafina Nuzzo to graduation and Katlyn Payne (moved to Florida), the Friars’ optimism stems largely from the presence of their all-everything, senior-to-be Liston. Last year, Liston led the Friars to a 28-6 mark and was named the Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year and ESCC Most Valuable Player. She averaged 22 points, five rebounds and shot .556 from the field. The high-scoring Liston erupted for 36 points in a 51-47 victory against Hinsdale Central and Red Devils’ star Toni Kokenis.
Next season, Liston will have talented company around her, as point guard Anne Mullen, Sarah Williams and Kathleen Roche are expected to play major roles. Alyssa Dengler, Hannah Ballard, Meredith Boardman, Molly McKenna, Mia Mastrangeli, Tawny Tucci, Navarrete and others ensure the Friars will possess ample depth, speed, size and versatility.
“We’re going to be an exciting team to watch with a lot of firepower,” Power said. “There is a solid nucleus of returning players, and they have great team chemistry.”
Fenwick depth bodes well for CL
These facts are indisputable: The Fenwick boys basketball team lost three key players – Xavier Humphrey, Michael Black and Evan Okrzesik – to graduation, and the Catholic League will be a beast next season featuring nationally-ranked players Mike Shaw (De La Salle) and Tracy Abrams (Mt. Carmel)
At York, Fenwick displayed depth, versatility and poise, winning four of five games en route to a runner-up finish.
Other than a lackluster start in the title game against the host Dukes (Fenwick trailed 10-0 and never recovered), the Friars clearly controlled matters during wins over Palatine (56-41), Hinsdale South (46-37), Downers Grove South and Neuqua Valley.
“This group has really been committed to each other,” Fenwick coach John Quinn said. “We don’t have any stars, but I think we can be a pretty good team because we have balance.”
Returning starting center Dave Suwada, power forward/center Jack Dittmer and veteran guards Xavier Vergara and Patrick McGrail all looked sharp over the weekend.
“We’re just trying to get know each better,” Vergara said. “As long as we come out and play hard, we’ll be fine.”
Michael Mullen, John Claffy and Julian Owens stated their cases at Minuteman for playing time next season.
“This tournament gives our younger guys a lot of experience,” Suwada said. “There’s going to be a lot of good players and good teams in the Catholic League [next season], but we just have to compete.”
First-year varsity players like Dylan Barnett, Tyler Sewall and John Malone also impressed at the tournament. The talented trio of newcomers carried the sophomores to a 21-4 season last year.
“Dylan will be a key player for us next season,” noted Quinn.