If the Fenwick boys basketball team could shoot from other spots on the court as well as it did at the free-throw line during a game against Hillcrest at the 49th Annual Proviso West Holiday Tournament last week, the Friars would be in good shape heading into the second half of the season. Instead, Fenwick travels to Providence on Friday with a 6-6 overall record and the foul memory of a brief stint at the prestigious tournament in Hillside.

Despite setting a new tournament record by shooting a perfect 13-for-13 at the charity stripe, the Friars fell to Hillcrest 49-44 in the consolation round of the tournament. The last team to shoot that well at the line in a single game was Elgin in 1973 (9-for-9). The Friars made 10-of-10 in the second half.

But from the field itself it was a different story for Fenwick. The Friars shot just 35.5 percent, only slightly better than the 28 percent the team shot in a 54-44 loss to St. Patrick in the first round.

“Hillcrest is a very good trapping and pressing team and that makes it difficult to get some good looks on the court,” said Fenwick head coach John Quinn. “But we had our opportunities and didn’t take advantage. One bad quarter per game has been our undoing all season so far.”

Hillcrest, which was ranked 12th at the time and holding a 13-1 record, jumped out to a 20-4 lead in the opening quarter. The Hawks scored 15 of their 20 points on turnovers.

Led by six points from Michael Mullin, the Friars cut the deficit to 10 by halftime. Fenwick outscored Hillcrest in each quarter of the second half but did not get any closer than five points.

David Suwada led the Friars with 15 points, while Mullin added 14. Jack Dittmer finished with eight rebounds and six points.

The Hawks were led by Julius Brown and Eric Gaines, who combined to score 28 points – 14 apiece. Gaines led the first quarter onslaught with seven points in the period.

In the opening round loss to St. Patrick, the Friars scored just eight points in the final period against the team they defeated in overtime last season in the tournament.

The Friars fell 55-54 to Evanston in their final game of the tournament. Fenwick held a 12-point lead at halftime but the Wildkits outscored the Friars 23-9 in the third quarter. Evanston’s Garrett Jones scored 22 of his 24 points in the second half.

Fenwick’s Pat McGrail, who scored 13 points in the loss, had his three-point attempt at the buzzer for the win rim out.

Fenwick hadn’t been eliminated from the Proviso West Tournament so quickly since 1999. The team went 2-2 last season and 1-2 from 2001-’07. In 2000, the Friars also finished 2-2.

The Friars, who sit atop the Catholic League North with a 3-1 record, return home to take on Bishop McNamara on Jan. 15 and St. Rita on Jan. 22. Both games begin at 7:30 p.m.

“We have a lot to build on,” said Quinn. “And January has always been good to us, so hopefully that trend will continue.”

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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...