After upsetting St. Rita in overtime to halt a losing streak at four games earlier in the week, the Fenwick boys basketball team had the wind taken out of its sails on Friday night against fellow Catholic Leaguer St. Joseph, but it didn’t happen until the final buzzer.
With 5.3 seconds left on the clock and his team down one, St. Joseph’s Reggie Johnson took an inbounds pass and made his way to the free-throw line where he hit an off-balance floater at the buzzer to stun the crowd at Fenwick and hand the Friars a 47-46 loss on their home court.
“We knew he was going to get the ball and we knew he was going to shoot it,” said Fenwick head coach John Quinn of Johnson. “It was just a question of getting a hand up and stopping it.”
Johnson swished in the game winner with a high arcing shot over Fenwick’s Jeremy Gruszka.
The Friars (5-11, 2-5) led for much of the contest, securing a 28-20 advantage at halftime, but struggled to hit their free throws down the stretch. Fenwick connected on just 8-of-15 shots from the charity stripe. Sam Ainsworth, who led the Friars with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with six seconds on the clock. Gruszka added a career-high 10 points for Fenwick.
“We wanted to get something going and carry it through February and we had the opportunity, but it got away from us,” said Quinn, whose starting junior guard Luke Lattner fouled out a minute into the final quarter with two points.
St. Joseph (12-8, 4-3) was led by Johnson’s 20 points, 18 of which came in the second half.
Going into the St. Rita game earlier last week, the Friars had lost seven of their last eight games. They downed the Mustangs 75-68 in overtime. Lattner led the way with 27 points, while Ainsworth poured in 24. The duo combined for 12 points in the overtime period.
Fenwick’s free-throw shooting against St. Rita (9-8, 5-1) was stellar as the team made a perfect 10-of-10.
“Sam and Luke have really given us a spark this season,” said Quinn. “Sam has really been doing everything. He’s really playing at a higher level. As a senior on a very young team, he has a big load on his back. He’s helped us with our younger players tremendously.”
The Friars travel to St. Ignatius on Friday night and host Holy Trinity on Saturday for Senior Night. Both games begin at 7:30 p.m.