Coming out of the highly competitive McDonald's Shootout with a victory over the No. 3 ranked team in the nation, Fenwick kept its momentum sky-rocketing last week with two East Suburban Catholic Conference wins over Benet and Carmel.
The 44-41 win over 12th-ranked Benet on Friday didn't come as easy as the 54-32 win over ninth-ranked Carmel two nights before. It took poise and focus on the part of Fenwick's Alison Jackson and Brittanny Johnson during pressure situations.
With 20 seconds left in the game, Jackson bucketed two free throws to put her team up 42-39. With a score margin of one-point, Johnson trumped those heroics by nailing two free throws of her own, this time with 5.5 seconds left in the game, giving the No. 3-ranked Friars (23-1, 7-0) their eighth-straight ESCC victory.
Jackson, who was plagued by foul trouble in the first half, scored 11 of her 15 points in the third and fourth quarters. Johnson finished with 12 points.
"I wanted to make those free throws more than any other free throws I've ever had," said Johnson, who had been knocked into the stands during a foul by Benet's Lauren Benson in the closing seconds of the game.
The sold out crowd of 1,300 in Lisle saw a physical game. Benet (18-4, 3-3) jumped on a 12-0 run in the first half, but Fenwick managed to climb back to trail 23-22 at the break. Samantha Woods hit two 3-pointers in the second quarter to keep the Friars close.
Benet had a chance to tie the game when Benson traded an open 3-pointer for a layup at the buzzer. Benson said she was trying to draw a foul.
"It was the adrenaline; I'm not sure what took over," she said.
Molly McGue led Benet with a game-high 16 points, while Kaitlin McInerney added 12.
On Jan. 19, Fenwick played host to Carmel and the result was a resounding 54-32 victory over the Corsairs. The game was practically over after the first half with the Friars holding a lofty 27-5 lead.
Jackson and Devereaux Peters, who hauled down 10 rebounds in the win over Benet, led Fenwick with double-doubles. Jackson poured in 19 points, including 10 in the first half, and hauled down 10 rebounds, while Peters dropped in 14 points and snagged 10 rebounds. Peters also had five blocked shots.
Woods chipped in 10 points for Fenwick.
The Friars jumped on a 13-0 run in the first quarter and their defense did the rest. Carmel only scored two field goals in the entire first half, mostly due to the defensive play of Peters and Erin Power, who had three blocks.
The Friars are in the hunt for their 11th consecutive ESCC title. They host Nazareth tonight (Wednesday) at 7 p.m., before taking on Lake Zurich and Mother McAuley to close out the Sweet 16 tournament on Saturday. Fenwick returns to conference action at Marian on Tuesday.