One positive that came from the Fenwick boys basketball team’s 53-40 loss to St. Ignatius in the Catholic League North opener on Friday night is the Friars are good free-throw shooters. But such accuracy from the charity stripe (14-for-18) couldn’t make up for a lack of size against the Wolfpack, who boast 6-foot-10, Illinois-bound center Nnanna Egwu.
Knocking off the host Wolfpack simply proved too tall an order – exemplified by Egwu’s game-high 19 points – for the relatively undersized Friars (2-2, 0-1). Egwu, who sank 8 of 15 shots mostly off mid-range jumpers, threw down a monster two-handed jam extending the Wolfpack lead to 25-15 late in the second quarter. Six-foot-five Fenwick center John Malone battled hard, but Egwu is a daunting cover for any Catholic League player.
“We felt it would be okay if Egwu got his points as long we neutralized their other guys,” Fenwick coach John Quinn said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t make enough shots ourselves.”
St. Ignatius (3-1, 1-0) led 27-20 at the break as the Friars made only five field goals in the first half. The only lead Fenwick held was 2-0 when Tyler Sewall made a pair of free throws off a technical foul called on the Wolfpack’s Brian Howard. Replacing Howard, St. Ignatius sub Ryan McClure netted eight points in the first quarter sparking the Wolfpack to a 12-11 advantage.
Fenwick trailed between eight and 10 points for most the of the third quarter before St. Ignatius tacked on a three-point play with four seconds remaining to lead 44-31.
Dylan Barnett and Tim Gancer scored 12 points apiece for the Friars, while Sewall added 10. Pat Hart and Luke Lattner provided energy and defense off the bench, but Fenwick struggled offensively with some rushed shots and 16 turnovers.
“The atmosphere was great,” Quinn said. “It was a sellout crowd and felt like a state tournament game, but [St. Ignatius] has a guy going to play at U of I and we don’t.”
Speaking of stars, the Friars found out on Monday they will face another one in Louisville recruit Wayne Blackshear of Morgan Park on Monday, December 27 (7 p.m.) in the opening round of the 50th Annual Proviso West Holiday Tournament.
“It will be a great challenge for us,” Quinn said. “We have done a pretty good job facing teams with superstar players [in the past] so hopefully our players will be ready.”
Fenwick hosts Loyola this Friday (7:30 p.m.).