Girls Basketball Playoff Preview
The Fenwick girls basketball team has a 28-2 record and recently won a share of its 13th consecutive East Suburban Catholic Conference (ESCC) title. So, what’s motivating the Friars as they prep for the postseason? It could be a number of things.
The team’s loss to Marist last week may have come just at the right time. The 64-62 defeat on Feb. 6, made more frustrating by the fact that the second-ranked Friars held a 21-point lead at one time in the game, is expected to be a prime motivational tool as the team kicks off the Class AA State playoffs this week. If a recent loss doesn’t stir the Friars, they can always fall back on last season’s disappointment.
It was just last year when Fenwick was upset by area-rival Trinity in the sectional championship, dispatching the highly favored Friars from the Class AA state playoffs for the first time in two years. It wasn’t long ago Fenwick enjoyed the ambiance of Redbird Arena at Illinois State University, home of the finals. The bulk of this season’s team-Devereaux Peters, Alison Jackson, Erin Power and Holly Harvey-helped lead the Friars to a third place finish three years ago. The following season, the same group fell in the quarterfinals to eventual state champ Peoria Richwoods.
There’s also a personal aspect that can be added to Fenwick’s determination to regain the state title for the first time since the 2000-’01 season. Samantha Woods was a prominent member of Fenwick’s team the year they finished third at state and the year they lost to Peoria Richwoods in the quarterfinals. Woods left Fenwick her junior year and helped lead Bolingbrook to a state championship last season. This year the senior forward has helped lead her team to a No. 1 ranking in the state, which came after Bolingbrook handed the Friars a 54-48 loss in mid-January. Fenwick could face Woods and the Raiders in the title game on March 3rd, a game likely to be as physical as the first meeting.
“They deserve the number one ranking but that’s not what matters, downstate is what matters,” said a defiant Erin Power after the loss, witnessed by a crowd of 2,500 at the McDonald’s Shootout held at Willowbrook. Erin suffered a bloody nose when she took an elbow to the face during the game.
But before a possible re-match, the Friars must first win the Proviso West Regional and the Riverside Brookfield Sectional, where No. 2 seed Proviso East (25-2) is likely to emerge or third-seeded Trinity.
Fenwick grabbed a share of the ESCC title by downing co-conference leader fourth-ranked Marian Catholic 45-25 on Saturday afternoon. Peters led the Friars with 16 points to go along with her nine rebounds and four blocks. Fenwick freshman Tricia Liston added 12 points in the win.
Fenwick, Marian Catholic and Marist all tied for first in the ESCC with 8-1 records.
The Friars host either Elmwood Park or Argo tonight (6 p.m.) at Proviso West. The regional title game is Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Trinity peaking at right time
Trinity would like nothing else but to revisit last year’s state run where they reached the quarterfinals, and the Blazers seem to be peaking at the right time. Six-foot forward Lykendra Johnson, now back at full-strength after suffering a knee injury early in the season, recently led the Blazers to its first Girls Catholic Athletic Conference (Red Division) title in school history. The Michigan State-bound senior is averaging 18 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks per game.
The Blazers, who closed out the regular season with a 22-6 overall record after defeating St. Joseph 61-41 on Friday, kicked off the Guerin Regional last night (after deadline). A win in the first round would put them against either Guerin or Nazareth on Thursday (7:30 p.m.). If all goes well for Trinity, they’re likely to see Proviso East in the Riverside Brookfield Sectional semifinals on Feb. 20 at 8 p.m.
OPRF hosting regional
The Huskies, who finished the regular season 18-10 with strong performances by Clare O’Connor and Kendal Dirkin, are the only team from the area with home court advantage in the regional playoffs. The fourth seeded Huskies hosted either Curie or Austin last night (after deadline). A win would put the Huskies in the regional championship on Thursday night (7:30 p.m.) likely against Morton.