Michael Black made a name for himself on Saturday night when the junior reserve guard scored 27 points to lead the Fenwick boys basketball team to a 72-61 upset over highly-ranked Morton.
The victory was Fenwick’s first against Morton (11-3) in three years and its fourth straight at home.
Along with Black’s heroics, which included three 3-pointers in the opening quarter, Derrek Tartt came off the bench for 14 points en route to the upset. Luke Scarlata paced Morton with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Fenwick (8-5 overall, 2-0 Catholic League North) took advantage of Morton’s zone defense with Black and Princeton-bound John Comfort (14 points) knocking down treys to leap to a 19-13 first-quarter lead. Morton, however, charged right back, largely due to the inside play of twin-towers Scarletta and Raul Guzman. By the time the smoke cleared, Fenwick was clinging to a narrow 27-26 halftime lead.
The Friars emerged from the locker room a team on a mission, jumping to a 46-37 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Mustangs again mounted a comeback, narrowing Fenwick’s lead 48-44 with 5:55 remaining. But Tartt, a senior, stole an errant Mustang pass and drove the length of the court for a score. The steal turned the momentum back in Fenwick’s favor and the Friars cruised the rest of the way. Black, who scored nine points in the first quarter and 10 in the final period, acknowledged the team effort.
“I didn’t have a very good game against St. Rita [the night before], so I practiced my outside shot and I found it tonight,” Black said. “This is a huge win for us-Morton is one of the top teams in the state. We played as a team and with a lot of heart and we got the win.”
Fenwick coach John Quinn knew Morton would be a difficult foe, but felt his team was in the right spot to defeat the Mustangs. Plus, after losing to Morton three years in a row, Quinn said his team was looking for some revenge.
“Three years is a long time, so this feels really good,” said Quinn. “We have played a very challenging schedule this year and had to play to the wire in most of our games. We have played in front of 3,500 people at Oak Park, so the kids have learned to play well in pressure situations. It has been a theme for us to have different players step up and we did that tonight.”
Indeed, the previous night against St. Rita it was junior guard Xavier Humphrey’s turn to step up. The junior knocked down 23 points for a 77-66 Fenwick win. The Friars were down six with a minute to go in the third quarter before they took the momentum and outscored St. Rita 27-14 in the final stanza.
The Friars were also solid from the charity stripe, converting 20-of-23 from the line, including Tartt going a perfect 10-of-10 in the fourth quarter.
Even with two big wins under their belt, Quinn knows his team must have no let-downs the rest of the season.
“Our goal is to win the Catholic League and we are on pace to do that,” he said. “We have St. Ignatius on Friday and they have an excellent team as well, so things don’t get any easier.”
The Friars host the Wolfpack Friday at 7:30 p.m. They welcome Montini on Tuesday (7:30 p.m.).