The Fenwick boys basketball team is the No. 5 seed in the Class 3A Nazareth Sectional which kicks off this week. However, the Friars defeated two of the four teams — St. Joseph and St. Ignatius — during the regular season slotted above them. Needless to say, the Friars feel confident entering the postseason no matter which teams are in their bracket.
"Playing in our [Chicago Catholic] league and the type of competition we face during the regular season, we aren't scared to face any team," Fenwick coach John Quinn said. "Obviously, we'll respect whomever we play in the playoffs, but our players are excited about this opportunity."
The Friars' cause for optimism may have fully kicked in during late December when the team, 5-5 at the time, crushed Manley 58-31 at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament to snap a four-game losing skid. From there, Fenwick got on a roll, taking 10 of its next 13 games to finish 15-8 overall and 6-1 in the Chicago Catholic League North.
Fenwick offers a nice mix of veteran players and promising young talent. Senior guards Luke Lattner and Josh Carlisle have provided point guard leadership/scoring and air-tight defense, respectively, while the Friars' superb class of juniors Keshaun Smith, Scott Lindsey, Tom Planek and Dan Dwyer provide size, depth and versatility. Prized freshman guard Michael Smith looks like a future star.
"We have players who have a high basketball IQ," Quinn said. "Sometimes that can work against them because they think too much on the court. We want the game to flow for them. But we have a relatively young basketball team so it's still a process."
The Friars now turns to the "second season," starting with an opening round playoff game on Tuesday (Feb. 26, after deadline) against the winner of VOISE Academy vs. North Grand. With a win, the Friars advance to Friday's 6 p.m. championship game of the Marshall Regional. The probable title matchup is Fenwick vs. the host Commandos.
Orr, St. Joseph and St. Ignatius are the top three seeds in the Nazareth Sectional, which offers an intriguing top five mix of Chicago Public League and Catholic League schools.
Of course, first things first for Fenwick, which hopes to capture its first regional title since 2006.
"Our focus is on playing well and winning the first game," Quinn said. "If we can do that, we'll see if we can get the measure of Marshall in the championship game."