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A packed field house for a basketball game in a hot summer month could only mean one thing: A rival match-up between OPRF and Fenwick.
Although it was simply a friendly summer league hoops contest between the boys' teams, you wouldn't think so by watching. The running clock game was filled with timely substitutions, time outs, technical fouls, ejections and heckling from the crowd. OPRF came out on top with a final score of 55-44.
The Huskies surged to an early lead, having success from the field both on the fastbreak and their settled offense. They led 11-5 after the first quarter, while in the second both teams began to catch fire from far outside the key. After trading off three-pointers over several possessions, the half ended with OPRF up 28-21.
The Friars began to mount a comeback in the third after the Huskies bench started to play sloppily. Friar point guard Luke Lattner, who will be a senior this fall, led the effort as he distributed the ball nicely on offense while providing pressure on defense. By the end of the quarter the gap had been reduced to three, 38-35. Lattner was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter after two technicals.
OPRF senior point guard Jakari Cammon took control in that final frame. Cammon, who is also preparing for football season in the fall as the starting running back, is expected to take the reigns as a leader of this squad in the winter. Head Coach Matt Maloney said Cammon will fill the void left by the graduation of star players Gabe Levin and Ka'Darryl Bell.
"We're really turning the keys over to Jakari this offseason," Maloney said, "He showed us last season only as a junior that he was ready to be a leader of this team. He stepped up in big situations and we have a lot of confidence in him to perform at a high level."
Cammon played swarming defense in the final quarter, wreaking havoc on Fenwick's backcourt. As soon as the Friar guards passed the halfcourt line, Cammon was there to meet them and came up with several steals resulting in easy fastbreak points.
Varsity newcomer Simmie Cobbs also helped the Huskies hold off Fenwick's comeback efforts. The junior swingman showed great athleticism and a keen ability to score as he slashed to the hoop for several impressive buckets.
"He's a player that shows a lot of promise for us," Maloney said of Cobbs. "Right now the biggest thing for him is adjusting to the varsity level of play and really finding his role."
Although it's always nice to come out on top against your rival, both coaches said that the most important thing about these games is gearing up for the regular season.
"We've got a lot of guys that can play good basketball," said Fenwick head coach John Quinn. "Right now we're in the process of finding line-ups that play well together. We're going to need to click as a team next year."
Fenwick's future looks bright as they are expected to return nine members of last season's team. The Friars have already showed signs of improvement having won the Loyola Shootout a few weeks ago.
On the other hand, OPRF is coming off their best season since current New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert graduated. After winning the Lyons Township Regional Championship, their season ended with a loss to Schaumburg in the sectional championship.
"One big thing about [the previous season] is that our guys really embraced their roles," said Maloney, who won his first regional championship as head coach, "We have great chemistry, outstanding effort, and a lot of senior leadership. If we can get this group to define their roles and start buying into our system, I think we can be even better than last year."