Fenwick High School girls basketball coach Dave Power has learned more than a thing or two in 40 years as a head coach.
One of them is knowing when to recognize a losing strategy.
Power has been utilizing a run-and-gun style of play the past few seasons, thinking the Friars could mask a lack of size by outscoring opponents.
But it hasn’t worked out that way. Fenwick has been inconsistent offensively and that has contributed to a 3-3 start, including a 3-2 showing at the Niles North Tournament.
“We were playing more of a run-and-gun style and we were turning the ball over too much,” Power said. “So we modified it to fast breaking when we really needed it or saw an opening and that has got it under control a little bit.
“The downside of [the run-and-gun] is you can lose a lot of games if you can’t score enough against teams that you could beat by playing a more conventional style. So we pick our spots.”
The Friars lost their first two games, falling 68-60 to Marist and 77-59 to Resurrection in the opening game at Niles North. But they rebounded to win three of their next four games to finish second in the tournament, beating Niles North 76-47 and Antioch 71-69.
Fenwick trailed the entire game against Antioch until senior guard Jenny Mackowiak drained a three-pointer with six seconds left for the decisive points.
True to the up-and-down nature of the campaign to date, the Friars lost to Wheeling 65-63 in their next outing before bouncing back to route Taft 64-35 on Saturday.
“What’s hurting us is we’re getting off to slow starts all the time,” Power said. “Teams seem to jump on us early and then we gain momentum and start to explode offensively when we shoot well. We were down 38-20 at halftime to Wheeling but we came back and had two possessions to win the game and turned the ball over both times.”
Things started to jell against Taft. After trailing 6-0 early, sophomore guard Mackenzie Berschel sank a trio of three-pointers to put the Friars in front and then liberal substitutions, including full hockey-style line changes, kept the team fresh.
“I think Taft got a little tired,” Power said.
Junior guards Deja Cage and Kiki Sheard were named to the all-tournament team at Niles North, while Mackowiak and sophomore forward Elle Schaefer were nominated.
Sheard leads Fenwick in scoring at 9.0 points per game. She scored 14 against Marist, 13 versus Antioch and 12 in the Wheeling game. Schaefer (8.5 per game), Mackowiak (7.8) and junior Drenisha Wideman (7.3) are the other top scorers.
Power hasn’t abandoned the up-tempo style – merely dialed it down a little bit while his young team gains experience. The Friars may not have the gaudiest record, but their veteran coach believes they will be at their most formidable when it matters most.
“I see this team improving greatly,” Power said. “We’re very competitive now but I think down the road we’re going to be great.”