St. Joseph proved to be just what everyone expected: a formidable opponent for Fenwick in the opening round of a heavily stocked Proviso West Holiday tournament that ran from Dec. 27 through Dec. 30. The Friars (8-4) fell to St. Joe, the eventual tournament champ, 74-50. But no one expected New Trier (6-6) to embarrass the Friars 63-47 in Round 2 of the tournament’s consolation bracket.

After Fenwick bounced back from the loss to St. Joe with a 70-64 victory over Whitney Young in the consolation opener, holiday fatigue may have set in for the Friars. Nothing went right for the team in the opening minutes against the Trevians. The Friars turned the ball over three times in the first 2 minutes of action and didn’t score a basket until Blake Neilsen nailed the delayed ice-breaker with a jumpshot at 5:35. By then the bottom had all but dropped out as the Friars eventually trailed 18-6 after just one period.

“We need a forklift to pick this team up,” muttered a disgruntled Fenwick fan.

By the end of the first half, the Friars needed more than a forklift for a pick-me-up; they needed a crane. New Trier held a lofty 36-18 lead at the break. The Friars connected on their first field goal in the second period with just 2:30 left on the clock. They were a disastrous 0-for-7 in 3-point attempts and 2-for-6 at the free-throw line in the first half. Neilsen was the only bright spot. The 6-foot-8-inch senior finished the day with a team-high 14 points, 10 of which came in the first half.   

Fenwick’s main scoring threat, Peter Flowers, was held to six points. Flowers, along with Nick Delaney, had 10 points in the win over Whitney Young, a team the Friars also defeated in the tournament last year. Kelvin Johnson scored a team high 17 points against Whitney Young, but was held to just four against New Trier. He scored 15 in the loss to St. Joe.

More than 12 Division I recruiters were on hand throughout the tournament, including representatives from Illinois, North Illinois, Nebraska, DePaul, Northern Iowa, and Purdue.

A highlight from the tournament was Von Steuben upsetting No. 1-ranked Hillcrest 97-79 in the second round. Von Steuben shot a whopping 73 percent from 3-point range in the first half of the rout, a stark contrast to Fenwick’s .071 percent in the game against New Trier.

The good news is Fenwick tends to be strong in the month of January. The team has gone undefeated in the month two years in a row.

The Friars host Providence on Friday at 7:30 p.m., followed by an away game against St. Francis Wheaton on Saturday (7:30 p.m.).

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...