The story line was largely the same for Fenwick’s two marquee games at the Proviso West Holiday tournament last week: Fall behind big early, make a rousing comeback, and fall short late.
The Friars were down 19-8 after one quarter in the opening round against Hillcrest Dec. 27 before blowing a nine-point lead and losing 55-51. And they fell behind Homewood-Flossmoor by 17 in the second quarter Friday, then led briefly before losing 43-34.
“It’s something we have to work on. We fell behind Oak Park [Dec. 21], then Hillcrest and H-F,” sophomore Xavier Humphrey said. “We can’t rely on falling behind and always coming back. We need to get on top and keep our foot down.”
Head coach John Quinn attributed his team’s tendency to start slow to its youth.
“It’s taking them some time to get used to the game, get the jitters out,” he said. “It also has to do with mental preparation.”
Fenwick rebounded from the early 11-point deficit to Hillcrest to lead 42-33 after Newman Delany splashed back-to-back three-pointers with 1:31 left in the third quarter, but the Friars lost control early in the fourth when Hillcrest big men Elliott Jones and Justin Berry scored eight straight points in 90 seconds to tie the game at 45.
Down 53-51 with 14 seconds left, Fenwick fouled and Hillcrest missed the front end of a one-and-one, but the rebound was tipped to Berry for a putback to give the Hawks a four-point lead.
The Friars retired to the consolation bracket, where Thursday they faced Peoria Central, one of two teams to go winless (0-3) in the tournament. Fenwick beat the Lions 51-49, Peoria tightening the game in garbage time and hitting a three at the buzzer to account for the final score. Derek Tartt scored 17 and Humphrey had 15 in the victory.
That earned them a berth in the consolation semifinals, where a victory would have created a consolation title rematch with St. Patrick, whom Fenwick defeated during the Shamrocks’ Thanksgiving tournament. But the Friars ran into an athletic H-F team that jumped to a 17-point halftime lead.
After trailing the Vikings 23-6 and on the verge of being embarrassed, Fenwick went on a 23-5 run of its own to take a 29-28 lead on a Humphrey three with 6:16 remaining in the game. But H-F closed with a 15-5 run despite hitting only 9-of-17 fourth-quarter free throws.
Humphrey had 15 points and seven rebounds against H-F as he averaged 14 points for the tournament. Besides Humphrey (all three games) and Tartt (Peoria), the only other Friar to reach double figures was Nick Caldicott, who scored 11 against Hillcrest.
Fenwick struggled with rebounding throughout the tourney, especially on the defensive end. It was out-rebounded in each game-by a 37-26 count against Peoria-and a botched rebound cost the Friars a chance to tie Hillcrest late.
“It’s certainly a weakness of the team. We’re getting used to not having Peter Flowers, who for three years was 15 rebounds a game,” Quinn said.
St. Joseph edged Proviso East by one to win its third consecutive tournament title.