Thrilling finish: Fenwick's Sarah Williams goes up for her game-winning layup just before the buzzer sounded on Saturday night.Photos by JOHN T. BRENNAN/Contributor

Heading into its match-up with Bishop McNamara on Saturday evening in the first game of a doubleheader with the boys on Pack the Place Night, the Fenwick girls basketball team could have been prone to a letdown.

The Friars (16-1, 3-0) were coming off a whirlwind of lopsided victories after trouncing four opponents to win the Dundee-Crown Charger Classic, including Bartlett, a team that was ranked fourth in the state at the time.

But there was no letup or letdown for the Friars on Saturday evening — it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing either. Sarah Williams made a layup in the closing seconds to give the Friars a 49-47 victory over their East Suburban Catholic Conference opponent. Fenwick hasn’t lost a conference game in nearly four years — not since the 2006-’07 season. The team is vying for its 17th-straight ESCC title.

Williams and Hannah Ballard led the Friars with 12 points apiece. It was Ballard’s three-point play that tied the game at 47-47 with 4.5 seconds to go. With 1.7 seconds remaining on the clock Fenwick ran an inbounds play that isolated Williams. Kathleen Roche’s pass was dead-on and Williams’ layup went in at the buzzer for the win.

“We haven’t played in about nine days, so I was a bit concerned going into this game,” said Fenwick head coach Dave Power. “Bishop is very disciplined and very patient. They gave us a battle the entire game.”

The Friars had a sluggish start, making just 5-of-21 shots from the field in the first half.

“We learn a great lesson by pulling out this win,” added Power. “I like it better when we learn a lesson after a win than when we come up short.”

The Friars begin the McDonald’s Shootout against Morgan Park at Willowbrook High School on Saturday (4 p.m.). Fenwick takes on Indiana’s Carmel on Monday (10 a.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...