Having already claimed victories over St. Joseph, St. Ignatius and Marshall — the Nazareth Sectional seeds two through four, respectively — this season, the Fenwick boys basketball team set its sights on taking out top-seeded Orr in the sectional semifinals, but accurate free throw shooting did the Friars in as the Spartans came away with a 55-46 win on Wednesday night.
Orr sunk 6-of-8 free throws in the final minute of action and finished 24-for-34 at the charity stripe on the night.
Trailing 23-13 at halftime, Fenwick opened the third quarter with eight points in a row to pull within 23-21. The Friars would rally on multiple occasions the rest of the way, however, Orr showed plenty of poise to preserve the win.
Junior center Dan Dwyer paced the Friars with 14 points and nine rebounds and senior guard Luke Lattner capped off his stellar career with 10 points.
While the Spartans (26-3) move on to tonight's 7:30 p.m. sectional championship game against St. Joseph (18-12) at Riverside-Brookfield, Fenwick finished the season with an 18-9 record, measureable signs of improvement, and considerable cause for optimism next season.
Senior guards Lattner, a Chicago Catholic League all-conference player, and Josh Carlisle will certainly be missed, but the Friars return an abundance of talent led by Scott Lindsey, Dwyer, Tom Planek and Michael Smith.
The 6-foot-5 Lindsey, who already has a scholarship offer from Indiana State, is an athletic and lanky player who can do it all on the court. At 6-8, Dwyer is a skilled big man who can score and rebound. Planek is another excellent post player and Michael Smith burst onto the scene playing major minutes and contributing as a freshman guard. Defensive ace Keshaun Smith also will be back in the fold.
"We're a young team so there have been some growing pains," said Fenwick coach John Quinn earlier this season. "We have a lot of talented, intelligent players. I think the sky's the limit for Scott, and Dan is also drawing interest from college programs. Tom and Keshaun bring a lot to the table for our team. I thought Michael showed tremendous poise as a freshman."
The Friars claimed several notable wins en route to their 18-win season. Fenwick swept three games to claim the Lyons Township Thanksgiving Tournament title, defeated cross-town rival OPRF 66-57 (Dec. 1), and secured the aforementioned wins against St. Joseph, St. Ignatius and Marshall for the regional title.
Fenwick also showed resilience this season. After dropping a heartbreaking 52-50 decision to visiting Loyola (a game in which the Friars blew a huge early lead), the Friars responded by winning seven of its last nine games to close out the season.
"Coming off such a devastating loss to Loyola, I thought we bounced back well," Quinn said. "It's a tired cliché', but [after that loss] we really tried to focus on just taking the games one at a time down the stretch of the season and play our best basketball.
"Our senior class meant a lot to the program and we will miss them, but we're excited [about next season] especially with the players we have coming back."