What a difference a week makes, just ask Fenwick basketball coach John Quinn. Fresh off a disappointing showing in the Proviso West Holiday tournament, the resilient Friars (10-4) showed their true colors this weekend, with a pair of convincing wins over Providence Catholic and St. Francis (Wheaton).
"We don't want to dwell on the past, we just want to learn and build on our mistakes," Quinn said.
The Friars came out firing on all cylinders in Friday night's 62-26 victory over Providence. Peter Flowers (10 points, 12 rebounds) set the tone early, connecting on the Friars' first two offensive possessions. Flowers and center Blake Nielsen (7 points) proved to be a tough match-up for the smaller Shamrocks.
"We were really looking for our post kids tonight; Peter is terrific he can turnaround and shoot and rebound," Quinn said.
The Friars led 10-3, midway through the first quarter, when Providence guard Chris Buchanan hit a 3-pointer to reduce the deficit to four points. It would be nearly eight minutes before the Shamrocks would score again, as Fenwick went on a 22-0 run, which demoralized and all but put the opposition away.
Fenwick's run was sparked by tremendous play on the defensive end of the floor. The Friars used full-court pressure to frustrate the undermanned Shamrocks into numerous turnovers.
"We know if we play good defense that it can turn into good offense," Quinn said.
The Shamrocks' attempts to apply full-court pressure backfired. Fenwick guards Kelvin Johnson (7 points) and Mike Alexander (6 points) managed to break the press for several easy layups during the Friars' epic run. Alexander and Johnson are just two weapons in Fenwick's versatile attack.
"Any night somebody different can lead us in scoring. We have had games where four or five guys score in double figures," Quinn said.
The Fenwick run ended with just 40 seconds left in the quarter. The Friars lead by a 32-8 margin at the half.
The second half saw the Friars continue to play aggressive defense. Quinn went to his bench for most of the half and received large contributions from Newman Delaney (4 points), Tim Shaw (8 points, 3 Blocks), and Nick Harvalis (5 points).
Flowers (18 points) and Johnson (10 points) both contributed heavily in Fenwick's 65-45 win over a scrappy St. Francis (Wheaton) team, Saturday night. Flowers' 18 points signified his best offensive game of the season. Quinn believes that his co-captains will need to continue to lead the charge for the Friars to make a push toward a Catholic League title.
"Flowers and Johnson are our co-captains and they should be our best players" Quinn said of the dynamic duo. "Peter is a very unselfish player and sometimes we don't look to him enough to score."
The game against St. Francis was closer than the score may indicate. Fenwick jumped out to a fast start and led 19-12 at the end of the first quarter. St. Francis responded to the challenge, cutting the deficit to 29-26 at the half.
Once again it was the Friars defense that was the difference. The aggressive Friars out-scored St. Francis 36-19 in the second half. Swingman Steve Marifjeren shut down St. Francis leading scorer, Regan O'Toole, limiting the versatile guard to only 13 points.
Quinn believes the Friars must maintain their defensive intensity as they enter a crucial stretch of the schedule with upcoming games against St. Rita and St. Ignatius.
"We really have to dedicate ourselves to the principals that we want to teach, unselfish play and solid man-to-man defense," Quinn said.