Fenwick   57
Marian C. 53

The Fenwick girls basketball team had to battle a feisty Marian Catholic squad in its own steamy gym on Saturday to gain at least a share of the program’s 15th-straight East Suburban Catholic Conference Championship. The Friars sparked in the second half, and accurate free-throw shooting in the final seconds led to a 57-53 victory over the Spartans, who entered the game with a higher state-ranking than Fenwick and with an identical conference record of 8-0.

After a sluggish start that had the Friars (24-5, 9-0) trailing 12-7 after the first period and 25-22 at halftime, Fenwick’s Katlyn Payne powered her way to 10 points in the third, nine coming during her team’s 15-5 run. The junior finished with a team-high 23 points.

Fenwick’s other star junior, 6-foot forward Tricia Liston, was held to just five points in the first half, but sunk four key free throws and blocked a three-point attempt in the closing seconds to seal the victory. Liston finished with 18 points.

Before Liston sunk her free throws, Marian’s Kaila Turner buried one of her five three-pointers of the game with 2.5 seconds on the clock to cut the deficit to 55-53. Turner, a senior who will play at Notre Dame next season, finished with 23 points. She scored eight points in the first quarter and five in the second to spark the Spartans (24-4, 8-1).

“This was a huge win, just huge,” said Fenwick head coach Dave Power after the game. “There was a lot of pressure on these girls to keep the streak alive and this was a very good team they went up against. The pressure mounts every year, so the 15th is a pretty big deal.

“I think what made the difference in this game was Payne’s play in the third quarter. It really gave us some life and everyone fed off of that.”

Power said that during halftime, Payne notified him that there was a potential mismatch she could capitalize on. “I gave her the green light and she went to work,” he said. “It’s things like that you like to see in a player, finding something to spark the team.”

The Friars travel to Benet tonight (Wednesday, Feb. 11) before resting up for the postseason, which begins the week of Feb. 16. n

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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...