Upsets aren’t entirely out of the question after the holidays. There are upset stomachs from eating too much ham, or upset kids who didn’t receive a certain gift from jolly ole Saint Nick.

But the upsets we’re getting at here are in the form of high school basketball games. The Fenwick boys basketball team enters into the 45th Annual Proviso West Holiday tournament this season in search of an upset or two, maybe three.

The Friars defrosted after a weekend that saw them lose to such mediocre teams as St. Francis de Sales and Morton, and surprised fans with a 67-62 victory over third-ranked Hales Franciscan on Dec. 13. It was, despite Hales residing in Class A and dealing with IHSA violations?#34;the program was not recognized by the association for a brief time?#34;it was a huge upset for the Friars.

That victory may have been enough to give the team much needed momentum heading into a tournament fraught with State contenders. Such notables headlining in Hillside this week include Glenbrook North, St. Joseph and newcomer Peoria. With such a stocked tourney, upsets would need to come fast for Fenwick, who has competed in the tournament 23 out of the last 30 years. The team’s most recent best finish was fifth place in 1997.

The Friars (4-4) took on Proviso East in the first round last night (Tuesday, after deadline). Fenwick coach John Quinn wasn’t dreading his team’s first round match-up.

“I think they’re a team very similar to Hales. We can match up pretty well with them,” he said when queried about his opening round opponent after the upset of Hales. “They’ve got the big kid, Brian Carlwell, who gives you a difficult challenge. He’s a physical kid, while (Javale) McGee (Hales) was more of a finesse guy. I’m not sure Proviso East’s supporting cast is as good as Hales’ is.”

The Pirates had begun the season with a 7-2 record, and were ranked as of this writing ninth in the state. If the Friars managed an early upset, then they were set to take on either Homewood-Flossmoor or Evanston tonight at 8:30 p.m. A loss to Proviso East sends Fenwick to the consolation bracket where they would play the loser of Homewood-Flossmoor/Evanston today at 1:45 p.m.

New to the structure of the popular tournament this year is that all teams are guaranteed at least three games (it’s been double-elimination in the past). The good news for the Friars is that any team can lose in the first couple of rounds. And climbing out of the consolation bracket isn’t unprecedented. St. Joe’s and Glenbrook North both competed in the consolation bracket in the years they went on to win State titles.

More than likely what Fenwick will be gunning for is to surpass last season’s tourney mark of just one win and three losses. Senior forward Peter Flowers is expected to improve on his eight-point tournament average from last season, where he played despite nursing a head injury. Freshman Xavier Humphrey will no doubt be on the radar screens of college recruiters. Humphrey tallied 15 points for the Friars in the upset of Hales.

Fenwick aside, the tournament also features such stars as 6-foot-6-inch Jon Scheyer of Glenbrook North who led his team to a State championship last season. Scheyer has signed to play at Duke. Other notables include Carlwell (U of I)?#34;Proviso East’s 6-11 center?#34;St. Joe’s Jonathan Peoples, and Von Steuben’s Kendall Russell and Jeremie Simmons.

The championship game is scheduled for Friday at 8 p.m. Individual tickets are priced at $10 per session during the first round and for all championship rounds. All non-championship session tickets are priced at $8 for four games in those sessions.

Dan Heim contributed to this report.


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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...