Scott Lindsey has long dreamed of finishing his high school basketball career by leading Fenwick to the state championship.

That dream is still alive, but the 6-foot-4-inch senior guard has found fulfilling it to be much tougher than expected.

Lindsey suffered a broken leg on an unofficial visit to Vanderbilt on Aug. 31 and spent three months on crutches. The talented swingman, who has signed with Northwestern, returned to action two weeks ago and has played in five games for the Friars, who are 15-6 overall.

“I’m feeling better every game,” Lindsey said. “I’m getting better each game. I still have a long way to go, but I feel like I’m progressing with every practice and every game.”

Lindsey returned to the lineup Jan. 17 in a 68-62 loss to St. Joseph and also played the following night in a 66-53 victory over Proviso East. Fenwick is 3-2 since Lindsey returned to a team that had gotten used to playing, and succeeding, without him.

“When Scott left he was the man,” Fenwick coach Rick Malnati said. “When he came back, he’s still the man, but right now he’s not capable of doing everything he usually does.

“We’ve got a puzzle and we’re still trying to put all the pieces together. Scott is gutting it out, but he’s also a three-year player and just his poise on the court can help us out even though he’s not 100 percent.”

Lindsey, who still is not entirely pain free, presents a matchup problem for opponents because he can play both inside and outside. He meshes well with 6-foot-8-inch senior center Dan Dwyer and 6-foot-5-inch senior forward Tom Planek, who led the team in Lindsey’s absence.

“He’s so versatile,’ Dwyer said. “He can play a ‘big’ or a ‘small’ for us. When he plays guard, we’re a huge team. When he plays inside, he can finish around the basket but also step outside and score.”

“He can spread the floor for us and he’s already done that,” Malnati noted. “They’ve got to respect him and he’s a very good passer.”

While it will take a while for Lindsey to fully integrate back into the team, he is grateful that he doesn’t have to carry the finally fully-loaded Friars all by himself. Fenwick also missed senior guard Keshaun Smith for a portion of the season due to injury.

“It hasn’t been a hard adjustment,” Lindsey said. “[Dwyer and Planek] are both very unselfish players. They both can finish and also look for me and everybody else on offense.

“My teammates are getting used to playing with me again, while I’m trying to get back in the flow of the game. We’re struggling a little, but we’re working on getting there.”

Dwyer appreciates how hard Lindsey has worked to return sooner than expected from such a serious injury.

“A few weeks ago, I didn’t think Scott was ready to come back,” Dwyer said. “He was a little slow and hesitant, but I think he’s ready now. He’s really playing hard. At this point of his return, he’s probably back more mentally than physically.”

Even so, Lindsey is still able to flash his tremendous talent. He had 13 points, five rebounds and five assists off the bench to back Dwyer’s 24 points and 11 rebounds in Friday’s 68-60 win over St. Laurence.

While no coach wants to see his star player miss more than half the season, Malnati pointed out Lindsey’s absence did have a silver lining because it gave other players unexpected opportunities. Freshman guard Jamal Nixon, sophomore guard/forward Mike Ballard and junior guard Kevin Owens all received extensive playing time against a slew of tough opponents.

But Malnati knows that if the Friars are to make a run deep into the postseason, they will need all of their weapons.

“We have enough on this team to be successful, but Scott healthy definitely raises our ceiling,” Malnati said. “I’m hoping by the end of the regular season he’ll be 100 percent.”

Friars hold off scrappy Vikings

Fenwick 68, St. Laurence 60

Fenwick         15  21 13 19     68

St. Laurence  12 14  14 20     60

Stats: Fenwick (15-6, 6-2 CCL North): Dwyer 24 points (11-for-14 field goals), 11 rebounds; Tom Planek 12 points, 5 assists; Scott Lindsey 13 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists. St. Laurence (3-15, 0-8):Matt Gurgone 20 points; John Gould 11 points.

Game summary: Trailing the visiting Vikings 19-17 at the 5:10 mark of the second quarter, Fenwick went on a 13-0 run to take a 30-19 lead with 2:18 remaining until halftime. The Friars led 36-26 at the break. St. Laurence opened the third quarter on a 14-3 spurt to seize a 40-39 advantage with 3:58 left in the quarter as Gurgone scored seven points during the Vikings’ run. Fueled by the offensive work of Dwyer, Planek and Lindsey, the Friars answered with a 12-0 run to seize a relatively comfortable lead at 51-40 early in the fourth quarter. Fenwick, which held a significant height advantage over St. Laurence, made 9 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter to hold off the pesky Vikings.

“We came out flat and we were sloppy defensively but we grinded out a win,” Dwyer said.

Upcoming game: Mount Carmel at Fenwick (Senior Night), Friday, 7 p.m.

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