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By Brad Spencer
Fenwick head boys basketball coach John Quinn borrowed his brother's lucky tie for Saturday evening's cross-town showdown at Oak Park, and the lone from Governor Pat Quinn turned out to work wonders. Well, Luke Lattner and a freshman named Michael Smith didn't need any luck as they helped lead the Friars to a 66-57 victory in front of a rowdy crowd at Oak Park's fieldhouse.
The win over the Huskies (3-2) was the first for Fenwick (4-0) since Matt Maloney took over Oak Park's head coaching duties from Al Allen five years ago.
Despite a size disadvantage — Oak Park started two players, Thomas Ross and TK Mattox, who stand 6-foot-7 or taller and subbed in the 6-9 Virgil Allen — the Friars jumped out to a 14-8 lead in the first quarter before the Huskies cut the deficit to four on a three-point play by Ross.
Oak Park briefly took the lead in the second when Jakari Cammon popped a three-pointer from atop the key to give his team a 20-19 advantage. But Fenwick distributed the wealth in the opening half with Dan Dwyer scoring nine, and Lattner and Tom Planek combining for 16. The Friars went into the halftime up 35-30, and never relinquished the lead again.
It was in the third when freshman Michael Smith, playing in place of Keshaun Smith, who was out due to a mandatory retreat with the Link scholarship program which sponsors him at Fenwick, emerged to give the Friars an extra lift. Michael held Cammon, who scored 10 points in the first two quarters, to just two field goals in the second half. Michael finished with 11 points. With 2:53 left in the game, the newbie converted a three-point play to put the Friars up 56-52.
But despite Fenwick's mighty attempts to gain some distance on the scoreboard and the Friars' fans trying to psyche their opponent out with jolly Christmas carols, the Huskies never went away. Erick Locke drained a three-pointer with 1:48 on the clock to cut the deficit to 57-55. It was the second trey of the final period for Locke, who finished the night with 17 points.
Fenwick held on for the win by way of some accurate shooting from the free-throw line down the stretch. The Friars made 13 of 15 shots from the charity stripe in the final period, mostly from the hands of Lattner, who was a perfect 8-for-8 in the stanza. The senior guard finished with a game-high 21 points.
"This is always a great environment to play a game in," said a very hoarse John Quinn following the final buzzer. "We feed off Luke Lattner and he played great tonight, but the freshman Michael Smith really stepped up for us and we distributed the ball well."
Planek added 13 points for the Friars, while junior Scott Lindsey, who Quinn said is gaining attention from college scouts with every game, chipped in six.
Alex Gustafson added nine points for the Huskies, who travel to Hinsdale Central on Dec. 7 to begin West Suburban (Silver) Conference action.
Fenwick hosts St. Francis De Sales on Dec. 7 (7 p.m.).
"I truly feel our best basketball is ahead of us," said Quinn as he straightened his brother's lucky tie.