Fenwick junior Lily Riordan is a key returner this season. The experienced guard provides speed and quickness to the lineup. (File photo)

During his storied coaching career at Fenwick, girls basketball coach Dave Power has seen his share of spectacular players: Erin Lawless, Tricia Liston, Devereaux Peters, who had their Fenwick jerseys retired last January, come to mind.

2017 graduates McKenzie Blaze and Kate Moore etched their place in program history last season. Both scored over 1,000 points in their careers. The terrific tandem provided leadership as well, powering the Friars (16-17) to a regional championship and sectional final berth against Nazareth, which finished as the state runner-up last season. The Roadrunners edged Fenwick 63-58 in a riveting sectional title game.

Fenwick will look to replace Blaze and Moore by committee. A deep, versatile and talented roster appears ready to answer the call.

A mix of experienced upperclassmen will stabilize the lineup. Seniors Maggie Van Ermen, Audrey Hetzer and MK Kapsch, collectively, offer a little bit of everything on the court.

Van Ermen is a lockdown defender and the glue of the team. Hetzer qualified for the IHSA 3-point shooting contest last season. Kapsch is a hard-nosed player known for taking charges and crashing the boards.

Junior Sheila Hogan is a returning all-conference player. Hogan is a complete player offensively with great court vision and shooting ability. Katie Schneider provides an inside presence with her toughness and ability to score and rebound. Stephanie Morella also rebounds well and is a high-end competitor.

Gianni Ortiz is a savvy point guard with an ability to penetrate the lane for passing or scoring opportunities. She’s a primary ball handler, solid defender and has multiple years of varsity experience.

Lily Reardon is known for her quickness, which translates well on both ends of the floor. Reardon can make shots from behind the 3-point arc, penetrate the lane and defend the perimeter well.

Several underclassmen may contribute as well, including sophomores Lauren Hall and Gianna Amundsen and freshmen Audrey Hinrichs and Elsie Heneghan.

“We will play up-tempo offensively but with an emphasis on defense,” assistant coach Dale Heidloff said. “We should be a force to be dealt with and very entertaining to watch.”

Alyssa Stramaglia and Cassandra Lee, a pair of standouts on the Fenwick softball team, could contribute off the bench as well.

The Friars will be tested throughput the season due to a very difficult schedule. Fenwick will face five of the top 20 teams ranked in Illinois Preps Insider.

“We play a very tough schedule, including the GCAC Red, which may be the toughest conference in the state,” Heidloff said. “Our win-loss record may be a bit deceiving, but our goal is to get deeper into the playoffs than a year ago.”

Blending the Fenwick players into a cohesive unit is the charge of Power. Since 1977, Power has amassed an overall record of 941-312, including a 618-219 mark at Fenwick over 26 years.

Fenwick defeated Taft 58-43 in its season opener.

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...