Historically, the last name Lattner and big games have been closely associated regarding Fenwick athletic excellence. For at least a night, Fenwick junior point guard Luke Lattner made quite a name for himself, reminiscent of his grandfather Johnny Lattner’s glorious gridiron days with the Friars.
With the 1953 Heisman Trophy winner in the stands on Saturday, Luke scored a career-high 33 points (19-of-23 free throws) to power the Friars past Lyons Township 74-61 at the LT Thanksgiving Tournament.
“The last couple of years we have gotten beat pretty bad at this tournament [by LT],” Lattner said. “We made a big effort to come out and set the tone right away. I got some calls and I was penetrating the lane pretty well. Our team played great and we’re happy with the win.”
In the early going, the Lions appeared in control with an effective full-court press that created several Fenwick turnovers and a 19-11 LT lead after one quarter. Lyons 6-foot-4 senior center Jake Dilcher netted seven points during the Lions’ auspicious start.
The second quarter was a completely different story as the Friars went on an 18-0 spurt en route to a 38-24 halftime advantage. Lattner triggered the second-quarter surge with 13 points, including nine points from the free-throw line. Fenwick center Sam Ainsworth, who finished with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, added six points in the quarter.
“We knew LT was going to fight back so we wanted to create a cushion for ourselves,” Ainsworth said. “We’re a pretty young team with the exception of a few seniors, but we don’t lower our standards because of our inexperience.”
Like the Friars who feature five sophomores in their rotation, LT is a young team in flux after losing all five starters and several key reserves off last year’s 26-3 squad. Trailing Fenwick 49-39 entering the fourth quarter, the Lions staged a mini-rally by going on an 8-4 run to pull within 63-59 courtesy of Joe Carroll’s steal and layup with 3:55 left in the game.
Lattner made eight free throws the rest of the way, though, paving the way for the Friars’ victory. For the game, Fenwick shot an astonishing 51 free throws, making 36 attempts off 37 LT fouls.
“Obviously, it’s a big learning curve for our guys,” LT coach Tom Sloan said. “We have a very inexperienced group. Fenwick is a big, strong physical team and Lattner did a really good [tonight]. We need to learn how to play pressure defense without getting every single player in foul trouble. I take the blame for that and it’s an issue we need to work on.”
Morton (3-0) ended up winning the tournament title, while Fenwick finished 2-1. The tournament annually offers a reunion of sorts as Sloan and Argo coach Pat Maietta both played together at Fenwick under longtime head coach John Quinn.
“It’s great knowing all the coaches and teams so well in this tournament,” Sloan said. “I have a lot of respect for the teams in our tournament because they all play the game the right way. It’s a good learning opportunity for our players.”
On the rise: When he wasn’t giving Lyons Township shooters fits, Fenwick junior Luke Lattner (left) was doing some impressive scoring of his own.