Fenwick             63
Hales Franciscan 52

With the state playoffs on the horizon, the Fenwick boys basketball team will be playing for keeps soon enough. On Friday night, the Friars played for pride in capturing a 63-52 win over host Hales Franciscan in a Catholic League crossover game.

With both teams battling recent bouts with the flu, Fenwick (14-9, 5-3 Catholic League North) pushed out a 30-20 lead. The Spartans pulled to within 45-40 in the third quarter, sparked by Marcus Campbell’s eight points in the period. Campbell finished with a team-high 15 points for Hales (9-13, 4-3 Catholic League South), while Ken Rhymes and Aaron Armstead each added 11 apiece.

Xavier Humphrey led the Friars to victory in the fourth quarter. The senior forward went 5-for-5 from the floor in the period and finished with 26 points and nine rebounds on the night. With two minutes remaining, Humphrey converted a three-point play and then made two free throws after Hales coach Gary London was given a technical. Fenwick also was given possession of the ball to quell the Spartans’ comeback attempt.

“That was a key moment of the game,” Fenwick coach John Quinn said. “Both teams were playing for pride. Hales has lost close games to Seton and Leo, so they can play with anybody. They also have had several of their starters transfer to other schools. It was a good win for us.”

In addition to Humphrey’s late-game heroics, senior guards Michael Black (11 points, 5 assists) and Evan Okrzesik (11 points, 4 assists) provided their customary floor leadership and defense. Collectively, the Friars sank 8-of-10 from the charity stripe down the stretch and employed precise passing for scoring opportunities against Hales.

Quinn also lauded the contributions of junior guard Xavier Vergara and 6-foot-7 junior center Dave Suwada. Vergara finished with four points and four rebounds, while Suwada chipped in with seven points, six rebounds and four blocks.

“I thought Xavier (Vergara) really played a great defensive game for us,” Quinn said. “He had some key steals. Dave did a nice job as well in the paint.”

The Friars host Bishop McNamara on Friday for Senior Night (7:30 p.m.).

With seven wins over their last nine games, Quinn is optimistic that the Friars are peaking at the right time before an admittedly brutal upcoming sectional, featuring marquee teams like Whitney Young and De La Salle.

“On paper, De La Salle and Young are the favorites but anybody can win the sectional,” he added.

Fenwick will open postseason play against Farragut, who hails from the mighty Public League Red-West.

“We won’t be afraid of anybody we play in the playoffs,” Quinn said, alluding to the Friars’ strength of schedule. “We have a good core of players and three seniors with plenty of experience. Our problem this season is that we have one bad quarter in some games we have lost. Hopefully, we are ready to step it up now.”

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...