Fenwick's fifth trip downstate in six years ended before it began on Saturday as eventual State champ Peoria Richwoods handed the Friars a quick 48-43 loss in the quarterfinals of the Class AA State tournament held at Illinois State University's Redbird Arena on Friday afternoon.
The Friars (33-3), who finished third at State last season with mostly the same young team, struggled early, falling behind 14-6 after the first period. Poor shooting on the part of Fenwick helped Peoria Richwoods (37-0) to a 21-1 run that put the Lady Knights up 31-24 at the break.
Fenwick shot a dismal 32 percent in the first half, and the team's only starting senior, Boston College-bound Brittanny Johnson, remained cold all afternoon, making just one basket in 15 attempts.
On four occasions in the second half, the Friars managed to climb to within two points of the lead. Sophomore Samantha Woods buried a jumper at the 5:53 mark to cut the score to 43-41. But Peoria's Megan McGann came back and nailed a 3-pointer to quell the uprising.
McGann, who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, hit two key free throws with 35 seconds to go in the game to close the door on the Friars.
"We got off to a slow start. That's happened to us a few times this year but we haven't dug ourselves as big a hole as we did this afternoon," said Fenwick head coach Dave Power. "I thought we expended a tremendous amount of energy to get back in the game."
The Friars, who due to a forfeit by Harlan in the UIC Supersectional on Feb. 28, hadn't played a game since winning the Lyons Sectional on Feb. 24, made just 16 of 46 shots from the field and 1 of 7 from 3-point range. The team hit just 1 of 6 free throws in the second half.
Power said he didn't think not competing for four days made a difference in Friday's outcome.
"We tightened up the defense in the second half a little bit but even doing that we just couldn't get the shots we needed to even it up. I could say not playing the (supersectional) on [Feb. 28] as an excuse but I don't think that was the reason," said the coach, who in 13 years at Fenwick has compiled a stellar record of 316-93, including a State championship in 2001. "Richwoods is a fine team, one of the five best we've played this season."
Peoria Richwoods received eight points off its bench, while Fenwick's reserves were held scoreless.
"They got off to a great start and we had to battle from behind the rest of the game," said Power of Peoria Richwoods, who went on to defeat Bartlett 52-48 for the State title on Saturday. "It takes a lot out of a team. We were still in it at the end and that's what was important. We didn't quit."
Woods led the Friars with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Fellow sophomore Alison Jackson added nine points and Devereaux Peters eight and 10 rebounds.
Fenwick loses two seniors to graduation in Johnson and Holly Harvey.