Considering its relative inexperience at the varsity level, it’s not surprising the biggest issue for the Fenwick boys basketball team has been consistency. Per their early season trend, the Friars split a pair of games over the weekend which moved their record to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the Chicago Catholic League North.
Fenwick lost to host Conant 51-48 on Saturday in a game head coach John Quinn deemed a “grinder.” On Friday, the Friars earned a better result in more aesthetic fashion, knocking off Gordon Tech 62-53 at home.
“We have a lot of younger players so finding a level of consistency is a priority,” Quinn said. “Our guys tend to play good quarters and bad quarters of basketball; we’re still a work-in-progress.”
Over the weekend, no player reflected the young Friars’ mercurial brand of basketball better than, ironically, one of their most experienced players – 6-foot-5 senior center Sam Ainsworth. Against Conant, Ainsworth turned in a clunker, fouling out of the game with one point and four rebounds. The night before his worst outing on varsity, Ainsworth scored a career-high 22 points (7-for-11 from field, 8-for-8 free throws) and pulled down 11 boards against Gordon Tech.
Junior guard Luke Lattner added 20 points, including 9-of-10 from the charity stripe, in support of Ainsworth’s outstanding effort versus the league rival Rams (2-5, 0-3). Six-foot-5 senior Jeremy Gruszka (8 points), who made a couple of three-pointers and a put-back bucket, and promising sophomore guard Keshaun Smith (6 points) also triggered the Friars’ win. Led by Ainsworth and 6-5 sophomore Thomas Planek, Fenwick dominated the glass, claiming a 37-21 rebounding edge.
“I thought we played our best basketball against Gordon Tech since Argo [Fenwick beat the Argonauts 72-34 earlier this season],” Quinn said. “Sam had a great game and we defended well. Gordon Tech is a much improved team with four returning starters.”
Unfortunately, Fenwick couldn’t match its performance against Conant. The host Cougars play a deliberate style offensively and like to minimize possessions.
“Conant is always a tough place to play,” Quinn said. “It was the second night of back-to-back [games]. We like to get out in transition, which is tough against Conant because they hold the ball and play a slower tempo offensively.”
The Friars held a 22-18 advantage at halftime, but the Cougars outscored Fenwick 12-6 in the third quarter to take a 30-28 lead entering the final eight minutes of play. In the fourth quarter, Conant went 19-for-20 from the charity stripe while Fenwick only made 5-of-12 attempts. Complicating matters, the Friars missed several shots on relatively clean looks at the basket. Lattner led Fenwick with 11 points and reserve Kyle Pullia chipped in five points and four rebounds.
The Friars, who were scheduled to host rival OPRF after print deadline Dec. 20, turn their attention to the prestigious Proviso West Holiday Tournament. Fenwick will play highly regarded New Trier on Dec. 27 (12:30 p.m.) in opening round action. The Trevians feature the outstanding trio of Connor Boehm, Austin Angel and Reid Berman.