By Brad Spencer
It's been a while since the Fenwick girls basketball team has had such an incentive to win a major tournament. The Friars hadn't needed any motivation because they were usually the team being handed the trophy at the end of tournaments — until last year.
Fenwick enters into the Dundee-Crown Charger Classic tournament seeking to take back the title that was taken from them last season. The Friars, who have won four of the last five Dundee-Crown titles, fell in the semifinals to New Trier, while Bartlett hoisted the hardware. With an up-tempo, shoot-at-will style of play this time around, Fenwick is expected to either dominate or quickly tire out.
"This is going to be a real test for us because of our current style of play," said Fenwick head coach Dave Power, whose team is averaging just over 80 points per game. "It's four games in four days and that can be taxing for us. Fatigue can set in, but this will be a good gauge for us to see where we are at the midpoint. This is where we may change up some things scheme-wise or stick with what we're doing. The tournament can be a springboard for us."
The Friars begin the tournament on Dec. 26 against Johnsburg (8:30 p.m.). They are likely to take on Rockton-Hononegah on Dec. 27 at 8 p.m. Bartlett resides in Fenwick's side of the bracket, so the Friars may have to go through the defending tournament champs to get to the title game. The championship is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 29 at 8 p.m.
Other notable teams in the tournament include Mother McAuley, Naperville Central, Maine West and Evanston.
"This is a great tournament because of the matchups and the tradition," said Power. "You win at Dundee-Crown, then, you have a good shot at ending up downstate."
The Friars are sure to make an impact with Jade Owens leading the way. The sophomore guard is averaging 20 points per game but only 18-20 minutes on the court. Freshman Deja Cage is also coming into her own. The newbie scored 12 points in a vital third period to lead the Friars to a recent victory over cross-town rival Oak Park.
Power said he's aware that the Grinnell College-like style of play can help or hinder his team this season.
"We can shoot ourselves right out of a game, but we can also shoot ourselves right back into a game," he said. "It's not a style for any team. This works for us because of the personnel we have. Hopefully, we can continue to improve on it and accomplish our goals as the season progresses."
The Friars enter the Dundee-Crown Charger Classic with an overall record of 10-1.