The Fenwick student section repeatedly held up posters of assorted “personalities,” including Fenwick boys basketball coach John Quinn, Danny DeVito, Darth Vader and Stewie from Family Guy, in order to distract St. Ignatius shooters at the free-throw line on Friday night in Oak Park. The ploy seemed to work as the rattled Wolfpack made only 2-of-9 attempts in the fourth quarter.
But Fenwick senior point guard Dylan Barnett also misfired on a pair of critical free throws sans the aforementioned “faces in the crowd” during St. Ignatius’ 58-51 overtime win.
Trailing the Wolfpack 38-37 with 4.6 seconds left in regulation, Barnett stepped to the charity stripe with an opportunity to put Fenwick ahead. After Barnett missed both attempts, St. Ignatius tacked on a point (free throw) by 6-foot-10 center Nnanna Egwu (24 points, 10 rebounds, 6 blocks) to hold a 39-37 lead. Barnett (19 points) redeemed himself in spectacular fashion, driving the length of the court and making a layup over Egwu at the buzzer to force overtime.
“I don’t know what happened on the [missed] free throws,” Barnett said. “I don’t know what I would have done if that’s how the game ended, so I wanted to see if I could change the outcome.”
While Barnett experienced feelings of both goat and hero within a four-second span, the reality is both Catholic League clubs blew chances notably at the charity stripe to win the game. The Friars missed 5-of-8 freebies, while St. Ignatius also clanked shots during a pressure-filled fourth quarter.
“It came down to making plays at the end of the game,” Quinn said. “We scored five points in the fourth quarter. That’s been our problem all year. We have one bad offensive quarter in a game and it really impacts us.”
After St. Ignatius outscored the Friars 8-5 in the fourth to force overtime, junior Marty McClure canned a three-pointer to give the Wolfpack a 47-40 lead at the 2:35 mark of OT. The Friars responded with a 9-5 run, capped by an inside basket from Sam Ainsworth to pull closer at 52-49 with 1:02 left. In the final minute, St. Ignatius (14-7, 6-2) knocked down four free throws and Egwu slammed home his third dunk at the buzzer. Junior guard Brian Howard added 17 for the Wolfpack, who snapped a four-game losing streak.
The Friars’ 6-foot-6 center John Malone and Ainsworth battled the Illinois-bound Egwu in the paint, but the Wolfpack effectively worked their offense inside-out by continually feeding their star center.
“St. Ignatius is a long team,” Ainsworth said. “We just had to work around their size and do our best.”
Senior guard Tyler Sewall scored 11 and Ainsworth added 10 for the Friars, who travel to Loyola on Friday.