Two clutch free throws with a mere second on the clock sent the Fenwick boys basketball team home with a 48-47 loss to Brother Rice on Friday night.
Pat Statham did the damage at the line, hitting both his free throws with one second on the clock to lift the Crusaders (5-0, 3-0) in the Chicago Catholic League North Division game.
“It’s been a real taut struggle for us,” said Fenwick head coach John Quinn. “We pick up some momentum and then can’t seem to close things out.”
Trailing 38-32 with six minutes to go in the game, the Friars (4-2, 2-1) jumped on a 12-2 run that included converting six free throws in a row. Xavier Vergara, who held Brother Rice leading scorer Bobby Harmening to 11 points in the game, stole the ball and converted a layup to put the Friars up three. Harmening answered with a driving layup.
Fenwick’s Mike Mullen had a chance to pull the Friars away in the closing seconds but missed both his free throws. Statham, who was fouled by Mullen on the next possession with Fenwick leading 47-46, made both of his to secure the victory.
David Suwada led the Friars with 14 points.
“We’re just still a young team,” said Quinn. “We need to learn to close out games more effectively. We have improved in some areas since the season started, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done for us to get to where we need to be as a competitive team.”
In their home opener on Dec. 8, the Friars downed Leo 55-40. Dylan Barnett, who was 8-for-9 from the floor, led three Friars in double figures with 19 points. Suwada finished with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Pat McGrail chipped in 11 points. Mullen grabbed nine rebounds in the win, and junior guard Tim Gancer scored four critical points in the final period. Leo had cut the lead to three, but Fenwick closed out the game with a 12-0 run.
The Friars welcome St. Laurence on Friday night and Luther North on Saturday night. Both games begin at 7:30 p.m.