Last season Katlyn Payne and Tricia Liston were a power duo that helped lead the Fenwick girls basketball team to a 28-6 record, including a perfect 9-0 mark in the difficult East Suburban Catholic Conference that earned the program its 15th straight title. But nothing lasts forever.

During the off-season Payne moved to Fort Meyers, Fla., where she’ll attend Florida Gulf Coast University after her senior year of high school in the sunshine state. The Friars have lost the power forward’s 13 points per game and aggressive defense. Head coach Dave Power said there isn’t one particular player to fill the shoes of Payne this season, more like “a committee of players.”

“Losing Katlyn is tough. She could at times give us upwards of 20 points in a game, and there’s no question it’s a big loss to our program,” he said. “But I think several players will step in to offset what she provided for us. We’re taller than we have been in years and we have a lot of depth. I guarantee we will have many different starting lineups, from a strong rebounding lineup to a speedy lineup.”

Liston, who has signed to play for Duke next season, will anchor a group of talented players. The 6-foot-1 senior forward, who averaged 23 points per game last season, is perfect for the leadership role. Liston has started on the varsity squad since her freshman year, when the Friars last won the Class AA State Championship. At the Nike Tournament over the summer, the 2008 ESCC MVP and Gatorade Player of the Year averaged about 30 points per game, according to Power.

“Tricia’s game has improved immensely over the years,” he said. “She’s regarded as one of the best players in the nation. She can shoot and make shots from anywhere on the court.”

Surrounding Liston will be returners Anne Mullin (guard), Alyssa Dengler (guard), Sarah Williams (guard), Kyra Navarrete (power forward), Kathleen Roche (forward) and the 6-foot Meredith Boardman, who will play in the low post.

Others expected to be significantly in the mix this season include Tawney Tucci, Molly McKenna, Hannah Ballard, Aja Branch, Heather Casper, Marek Burchette, Mia Mastrangeli and Colorado transplant Danielle McGruder.

The Friars are a little banged up to start the season. Ballard is returning after breaking a bone in her back, while McGruder is nursing a foot injury and Roach a shoulder injury.

Standing in the way of Fenwick’s 16th-straight ESCC title will likely be Marian Catholic, who is ranked in the top five in many preseason polls.

“It’s the toughest conference in the state in my view,” said Power. “And Marian Catholic being picked to win it this season we will surely use as a motivational tool.”

The Friars host rival OPRF tomorrow night (Thurs., Nov. 19) at 7 p.m.  

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Key returners: Tricia Liston

Newcomers

: Hannah Ballard, Heather Casper

2008 record:

28-6 overall, ESCC title

Tidbit:

When Liston is double teamed, look for players like Kyra Navarrete, Meredith Boardman, Kathleen Roach and Alyssa Dengler to step up.

2009-10 Home Schedule

Date opponent Time

Tues., Nov. 24 Proviso East 7 p.m.
Thurs., Dec. 3 Loyola 7 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 9 Benet 7 p.m.
Mon., Dec. 14 Marist 7 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 23 Providence 2:30 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 29 St. Viator 7 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 3 Joliet C. 7 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 10 Simeon 7 p.m.

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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...