Fenwick's three-year undefeated run in the month of January came to a halt in a bizarre way on Saturday against a mediocre Lane Tech team. Chris Head, former head coach at Proviso West and current head coach at Foreman, was one of the officials at the game in Chicago in which Fenwick lost 68-66.
"I thought it a little strange to see a high school basketball coach officiating a high school basketball game," said Fenwick head coach John Quinn. "But oh well."
It's up in the air whether six straight foul calls on Fenwick in the last two minutes of the game can be attributed to poor officiating. Quinn wasn't sure whether Head was a certified official; however he doesn't attribute the loss solely to the officiating.
"We didn't lose the game because of the officiating. We didn't execute when we needed to," said Quinn, who was coaching against a former Fenwick student of his, Frank Lullino. "We should have put Lane Tech away early, but they are a good, feisty team."
The Friars (13-5, 7-1) led 37-29 at halftime, and held a 12-point lead in the third, but 17 turnovers didn't help things. Lane Tech's press in the fourth quarter, coupled with a few suspect calls, got the best of Fenwick. Steve Marifjeren was mostly on the wrong end of those foul calls. The senior forward was hit with three fouls in the first minute of action in the fourth quarter.
Kelvin Johnson led the Friars with 21 points. Michael Alexander had 18 points and seven rebounds. Peter Flowers chipped in 11 points to go along with his 10 rebounds.
Lane Tech's Oscar Avila scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. The Indians (8-8) also got production out of Brent Criesmint, who added 13 points.
Things went a lot smoother for the Friars in a 66-48 blowout of St. Rita in a Catholic League (North) game on Friday night. Flowers led the onslaught with 17 points and 12 rebounds in just three quarters of action. Alexander had 15 points. Johnson, who led the Friars in a win over St. Ignatius on Jan. 18 with 22 points, five steals and four assists, contributed 12 against St. Rita.
"Losing to Lane Tech was a good test for us," said Quinn. "We have to learn to respond to the challenge of back-to-back games. If we get everyone playing well, we can go against anyone."
Quinn said he'd like to see his big man, Blake Neilsen, get back in a scoring role for the team.
"Blake's been playing great defense, especially against St. Rita, but we need him to contribute more offensively," he said. Neilsen fouled out in the fourth quarter against St. Rita with just three points.
Fenwick will go up against a team Quinn called "dangerous" in Guerin Prep on Friday at home (7:30 p.m.). Guerin defeated a strong Loyola team last week.
Standing in the way of a Catholic League title is Nate Minnoy and Hales Franciscan (15-4, 8-0). The Friars take on the Spartans Tuesday night. In his first game back after a three-game suspension for going into the stands to confront a heckler, Minnoy had 17 points, seven rebounds, and five assists in an 85-69 win over De La Salle last week.