A fast start for the Friars

? Boys hoopsters face a tough week ahead with four games.

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By BRENDAN MURPHY

Head coach John Quinn and the Fenwick High School boys basketball team set some lofty goals for the season ahead. Some of those goals include regaining Fenwick's Catholic League North basketball crown and a trip downstate to the IHSA basketball Elite Eight tourney. Last week, the Friars (3-0) took the first step toward accomplishing those goals, by winning the St. Patrick Thanksgiving Tournament.

Four of the Friars' five starters were named to the all-tournament team (Michael Alexander, Blake Nielsen, Pete Flowers, and Kelvin Johnson). Senior guard Johnson averaged 13.6 points a game in the tournament. His play earned him tournament MVP.

While strong individual performances from Johnson and Junior Forward Pete Flowers stood out, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Friars three wins was the number of players who contributed in every game. The Friars playing rotation goes nine deep, which allowed them to keep fresh legs oncourt throughout the entire tournament. Quinn believes this could be the deepest team he has ever coached.

"We feel we really have the depth that we can take advantage of and that should help us over the course of the season. If someone gets sick or hurt, we have people that could step in and give us a big lift," Quinn said.

Fenwick opened tournament play with a strong showing against North Chicago. The Friars dominated from the opening tip enroute to a 67-34 victory. Johnson led all scorers with 14 points, while Michael Alexander's strong interior play (10 points, 13 rebounds) made things difficult for North Chicago's big men.

The Friars started somewhat slower in their second victory of the tournament, a 65-48 victory over Streamwood. Fenwick went into the half leading 27-20 while not getting the kind of strong play from their big men the Friars have come to expect. The second half, however, was a different story for Fenwick. Johnson led all scorers with 19, but it was senior center Blake Nielsen who may have been the difference for the Friars. Nielsen was a major force in the paint in the second half, scoring all 13 of his points in the game's final two quarters.

The Friars' 48-43 championship game victory over host St. Patrick was not as close as the final score indicates. The Friars did not shoot the ball well, particularly from the free throw line where they shot under 50 percent. The game was decided on the glass with Fenwick outrebounding St. Pat's by a 44-27 margin. Flowers led Fenwick with 14 points.

The Friars begin their quest to regain their Catholic League North basketball title this Friday against St. Francis De Sales.

Friday's game is one of four games the Friars will play over the next week. Quinn believes the upcoming stretch of games is crucial and will tell him a lot about his basketball team.

"We are shaky right now. There is a long way to go. We have been in this position before where we started quickly. We have a tough December ahead," Quinn said.

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