The one spot on a basketball court a team can’t play defense is the free-throw line. The Lyons Township boys basketball team found that out the hard way on Friday as visiting Fenwick pulled out a 74-61 win largely via a parade to the charity stripe at the LT Thanksgiving Tournament.
Fenwick shot an astonishing 51 free throws, making 36 attempts off 37 LT fouls. Fenwick junior guard Luke Lattner was the primary beneficiary of the Lions’ foul-plagued night. He scored a career-high 33 points, including 19 of 23 free throws.
“Obviously, it’s a big learning curve for our guys,” LT coach Tom Sloan said. “We have a very inexperienced group. Fenwick is a big, strong physical team and Lattner did a really good [tonight]. We need to learn how to play pressure defense without getting every single player in foul trouble. I take the blame for that and it’s an issue we need to work on.”
In the early going, the Lions appeared in control with an effective full-court press that created several Fenwick turnovers and a 19-11 LT lead after one quarter. Six-foot-4 senior center Jake Dilcher netted seven points during the Lions’ auspicious start.
The second quarter was a completely different story as the Friars went on an 18-0 spurt en route to a 38-24 halftime advantage. Lattner triggered the second-quarter surge with 13 points, including nine points from the free-throw line. Fenwick center Sam Ainsworth (14 points, 10 rebounds) added six points in the quarter.
“We knew LT was going to fight back so we wanted to create a cushion for ourselves,” Ainsworth said. “We’re a pretty young team with the exception of a few seniors, but we don’t lower our standards because of our inexperience.”
Like the Friars who feature five sophomores in their rotation, LT is a young team in flux after losing all five starters and several key reserves off last year’s 26-3 squad. Trailing Fenwick 49-39 entering the fourth quarter, the Lions staged a mini-rally, going on an 8-4 run to pull within 63-59 courtesy of Joe Carroll’s steal and layup with 3:55 left in the game.
Lattner made eight free throws the rest of the way, though, paving the way for the Friars’ victory.
LT senior guards Kenny Smith and Carroll scored 14 points apiece and David Reed chipped in seven points.
“We got into foul trouble and dug a big hole for ourselves,” Smith said. “We just need more practice. Since we are undersized we need to box out better and just concentrate on doing the little things right to win games.”
Morton (3-0) won the tournament title, while Fenwick finished 2-1, LT went 1-2 and Argo 0-3.