The players on the Fenwick High School boys basketball team got into a collective shooting zone during Friday’s 69-46 win over host Gordon Tech. The red-hot Friars (12-4, 5-0 Chicago Catholic League North) made 28 of 30 shots from two-point range en route to a comfortable victory in league play.

“None of us realized it until [Gordon Tech head coach Tom Kleinschmidt] told our coach [Rick Malnati] Saturday morning,” senior forward Tom Planek said about the Friars’ remarkable shooting display. “We executed really well and we played unselfish basketball. We probably assisted on most of our baskets and didn’t take any silly shots. I think the key was our patience on offense.”

While starters Planek (16 points), sophomore guard Mike Smith (14 points) and senior center Dan Dwyer (12 points) turned in their typically solid performances, the bench also stepped up for Fenwick. Senior guard Charlie Walsh hit a timely three-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half to push the Friars’ lead to nine points at the break.

“We got good help off the bench from Charlie and [senior forward] Jeremy Ireland,” Malnati said. “It was a good win for us and everybody was able to play.”

Gordon Tech featured three freshmen guards, which Fenwick was able to exploit with its customary pressure defense.

“We knew we had to take advantage of their young guards,” Planek said. “Our guards did a good job chasing them off the [three-point] line in the second half and that rattled them a little.”

Despite the loss to Fenwick, Gordon Tech is a program with a bright future, led by alumnus Kleinschmidt and assistant coach Carl Maniscalco. Kleinschmidt played on the Rams’ 1990 IHSA state runner-up team before earning AP honorable mention All-American status at DePaul University. After being drafted by the Seattle Supersonics in the 1996 NBA Draft, he played professional basketball primarily overseas.

Maniscalco played college basketball with Malnati at Bradley. Malnati was also close with legendary Gordon Tech coach Steve Pappas, who coached Kleinschmidt on the Rams’ aforementioned 1990 squad and finished with a 313-154 overall record in 17 seasons as a head coach at Gordon Tech and Deerfield. Pappas passed away in 2006 to the effects of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“[Kleinschmidt and Maniscalco] are doing a great job,” Malnati said. “They’re going to be very good as they continue to rebuild their program. I like what they’re doing. It was good to play against a program that’s on the rise.”

As for the Friars, optimism also remains high, particularly with the anticipated return of 6-foot-5 forward Scott Lindsey, who hasn’t played this season due to a leg injury. Fenwick also hopes senior guard Keshaun Smith, who missed the Gordon Tech game with an ankle injury, will be back in action for the Friars’ upcoming games.

Lindsey, who has signed with Northwestern, practiced all last week and is getting closer to 100% every day.

“He’s a little bit more active and a little more explosive,” Malnati said. “Scott needs more practice. We’re going to give him a chance to go hard against guys and see how he reacts.”

The Friars have a tough road ahead with four straight tests on the road against outstanding teams. Their gauntlet of games begins at St. Joseph Friday (7 p.m.) and at Proviso East (6 p.m.) Saturday. Loyola and Hinsdale Central lurk for the visiting Friars the following weekend of Jan. 24-25.

“St. Joe’s and Proviso East have similar styles, so we’ll have to prepare the same way for both of them,” Planek said. “We just have to be ready and practice on our end.”

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