By Marty Farmer
The scouting report on the Fenwick High School girls basketball team a year ago was pretty straightforward. Contain top scorers McKenzie Blaze and Kate Moore (both 1,000 point-plus career scorers), shut down the rest of the players, and a win was likely.
That approach does not apply this season as Blaze and Moore have moved on to college and the Friars are scoring (and winning) by committee.
Underclassmen Audrey Hinrichs and Lauren Hall have emerged as top players, their reputations reinforced by all-tourney selections at the Komaromy Classic hosted by Dundee-Crown over the Christmas break.
However, Fenwick (16-6) is about a lot more than one or two players. Maggie Van Ermen, Elise Heneghan, Lily Reardon and Gianni Ortiz, among others, have made major contributions.
"There's no one player to stop. We have great scoring balance," Fenwick coach Dave Power said. "We have four players who are very good at shooting threes and we have three or four players who are very good down low."
Fenwick faced the daunting task of playing Montini and Fremd over the weekend.
The Friars' 43-42 loss in overtime against the former on Friday, Dec. 4 ended on a controversial call. With Fenwick clinging to a 42-41 lead with 2.3 seconds left in OT, an official called a foul on the Friars with .3 seconds remaining. Montini took full advantage by sinking a pair of free throws to pull out the win.
Power recalls the closing moments.
"With 2.3 seconds left, I was concerned about throwing the ball inbounds underneath their basket," Power said. "So we decided to throw it long with the idea being that even if the pass is picked off, it would be hard for Montini to get off a good shot.
"We threw it long and asked our player to make sure you get a touch to start the clock," he added. "The ball kind of caromed off and there was a rugby scrum for it. Montini took the ball and one dribble to get out of the melee when the referee called a foul with three-tenths of a second left."
Understandably, Power was not pleased with the ending.
"Sometimes coaches make mistakes or players make mistakes that can lose a game," Power said. "In this case, I feel like the referee unjustly pulled something off in there. I won't name him and he's been a ref for many years, but I think he had his bad day in that moment.
"I've known this referee for well over 30 years. In my opinion, it was an unjust call that should have not been called. He knows better than to make a call like that. Let the player decide the outcome of the game. Montini may feel like they beat us but we don't feel that way."
Heneghan (13 points), Hinrichs and Reardon (11 points each) and Hall (8 points) paced a balanced offensive attack.
The Friars initially appeared to shake off their setback against the Broncos the following night against Fremd at the Chicagoland Invitational Girls Basketball Showcase at Benet Academy. Fenwick led 26-14 and then 31-18 early in the third quarter before the Vikings rallied for a 46-43 victory. Fremd went on a 19-1 run that turned the game around as the Friars struggled offensively for most of the third quarter.
Van Ermen scored a game-high 14 points, while Hinrichs and Hall finished with eight points apiece and Reardon had six points.
Brianna Wooldridge and Emily Klaczek scored 11 points each for Fremd (18-2).
The Friars host Resurrection on Tuesday, Jan. 8. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m. Fenwick then welcomes St. Ignatius to Oak Park on Thursday, Jan. 10 (7 p.m.).
"I think we can up our game even more, but we know we are right there with the top teams," Power said. "We're playing very good basketball right now. I'm really proud of our girls."