All streaks must eventually end, and the Fenwick girls basketball program’s stronghold on the East Suburban Catholic Conference title concluded on Friday night with a 53-43 loss to Marian Catholic in Chicago Heights.

The Friars (24-4, 7-2), who were coming off a 65-63 nail-biting loss to Marist and had to beat Marian Catholic for at least a share of its 17th-straight league title, were unable to hold off the Spartans’ Simone Law and Jasmine Matthews. The duo combined to score 42 points.

Fenwick led 13-9 after the opening quarter and went up six early in the second, but Marian Catholic (26-4, 9-0) charged back with a 12-1 run and cruised the rest of the way.

Sarah Williams led Fenwick with 14 points, while Kathleen Roche added 13. The Friars had seven players score in the game, including Jade Owens (6 points) and Meredith Boardman (4 points).

“Each team has felt additional pressure over the years to keep the streak alive, so there was a lot riding on these girls’ shoulders,” said Fenwick head coach Dave Power. “I felt bad for them at first, but several variables came into play this year with location and the timing of this game with the Marist game. Hey, the good news is the streak will take 17 years to break now. So that’s something to look at, and besides I think they’d all trade in a conference plaque for a state tourney trophy anytime. So we’ll concentrate our efforts on that now.”

The added pressure to beat Marian Catholic came on the heels of a loss to Marist earlier in the week.

Randyll Butler’s running jumpshot with two seconds on the clock sealed Fenwick’s fate against the Redhawks (24-4, 7-2).

The Friars, who were led by Kyra Navarette’s 13 points, held a nine-point lead late in the final quarter before Marist rallied. Owens knotted the game at 63-63 by splitting a pair of free throws.

After Butler’s heroics, a last-second desperation pass upcourt went out of bounds for the Friars as time expired.

Roche scored 12 points for Fenwick, 10 in the final quarter. Meredith Boardman also scored 12 to go along with 10 rebounds for the Friars, who began the Class 4A playoffs this week. Fenwick, the No. 1 seed in the York Sectional, was set to take on either Schaumburg or Lake Park in the opening round of the Hoffman Estate Regional last night (after deadline).

“This is no doubt the toughest sectional I’ve ever coached in,” said Power, whose team could meet cross-town rival OPRF in the regional title game on Friday (7:30 p.m.). “There are four teams in the Top 10 in the same place. It doesn’t get much more competitive than that.”

If all goes well for the Friars, they could face Proviso East in the semifinal of the sectional on Feb. 22. A victory there could have Fenwick and area-rival Trinity meeting in the York Sectional title game on Feb. 24. If not the Blazers, then Bartlett is expected to be waiting. The Friars downed the Hawks 65-47 to win the Dundee Crown Holiday Tournament back in December.

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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...