By Brad Spencer
Difficult starts aren't exactly the norm for the Fenwick girls basketball program, or for head coach Dave Power for that matter.
Actually, a 3-4 overall record to start this season is the worst in the program's history and in Power's career. But the legendary coach, who has guided Fenwick to two state championships and six state finals appearances and is currently closing in on 900 career victories, isn't too concerned.
"We've taken some lumps and we're going to take some lumps but in the long run, by the end of the season, what we went through will have helped us, will have made us stronger," Power said. "I truly believe we'll be the team I envisioned we would be."
The lumps the Friars have already experienced have come in the form of injuries to key players Deja Cage and Jade Owens. Cage, a sophomore guard who was selected all-East Suburban Catholic Conference as a freshman last season, suffered a torn ACL in a fall shootout and will be out the entire season. Owens, who has signed with Creighton University and is the catalyst of Power's up-tempo run-and-gun offense, suffered a severe ankle sprain in the opening minutes of the first game of the season against cross-town rival Oak Park and River Forest. A time frame for the senior guard's return has yet to be determined, according to Power.
"The injuries have thrown us for a loop, but we're not making excuses for any losses. It's quite a bit of points to make up and we need to get better defensively. It will take some time. The team is working hard to improve and we'll get there."
While directing Fenwick's fast-paced system, Owens averaged close to 20 points per game and helped the Friars to a 23-7 record last season. "The person who is running our offense has to be an instantaneous decision maker, and no one does that better than Jade," said Power, who has spent the last couple of weeks tinkering with the lineup to find the right combination of players to keep the system rolling.
So far Maya Garland, a University of Alabama-Birmingham recruit, has done a good job of stepping into the role. Others who have made their presence felt include Kiki Sheard, Kelly Canoy, Jessica Mackowiak, Jenny Mackowiak, Selena Mullis, Giselle Diaz, Megan Hussey and freshmen Elle Schaefer. Sheard, a sophomore, was selected all-tournament along with Garland at the Niles North Thanksgiving Tournament where the Friars finished second. Fenwick secured victories over Taft, Resurrection and Antioch.
Power says he's not averse to making changes to his high-octane offense due to the early season setbacks.
"We'll continue to run the same system, but I think we'll adjust some things a bit for sure. Right now, it's all about weathering the storm we're facing right now. We have some good depth, and those players are getting some really good playing time. That will only make us better in the coming months."
Fenwick hosts Loyola on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 2:30 p.m. The team will compete in the Sterling Tournament the following weekend before traveling to Miami, Fla., for a holiday tournament from Dec. 27 through Dec. 30.