Most local high school basketball fans know about the rivalry between Fenwick and Oak Park and River Forest High Schools. But there’s another area rivalry between the Friars and Riverside-Brookfield and Fenwick that’s just as intense.
“We know a lot of these guys from our area, and they come (to Fenwick) for basketball,” RBHS guard Zachary Vaia said after the Bulldogs’ 64-61 win Saturday at Fenwick. “I look at it as a rivalry game. It’s definitely good to come to their house and get a win.”
Indeed, RBHS outscored the Friars 27-17 during a pivotal second quarter.
“We had a mental lapse defensively,” Fenwick coach Staunton Peck said. “That was our one bad quarter. We won the other three quarters, but basketball is four quarters long.”
Midway through the second quarter, Fenwick led 22-18. RBHS responded with a 12-0 run to take a 30-22 lead. The Bulldogs never trailed again and held a 33-27 advantage at halftime. Patrick Hanley (17 points) and Reggie Loury (13 points) each scored eight points during the Bulldogs’ surge.
The game evolved into a tense nail-biter in the second half, particularly the fourth quarter. Fenwick sophomore forward Bryce Hopkins scored 13 of his game-high 25 points over the final eight minutes as the Friars made it a one-possession game on a few occasions.
But each time Fenwick drew close, RBHS answered with clutch baskets from Vaia (17 points), Hanley or Loury.
After Fenwick cut the RBHS lead to 62-59 on a Bryce Hopkins 3-pointer with 11.6 seconds left in the game, Vaia was fouled. With six seconds left, he made two free throws to essentially put the game away. The Friars’ Lucas Kolovitz scored on a putback basket at the buzzer to account for the final score.
Peck praised his team’s effort, especially from the Friars’ underclassmen Trey Pettigrew, Kaden Cobb and Hopkins, along with Kolovitz, a senior.
“We’re young but we never give up,” Peck said. “Trey got into foul trouble in the first half, but he came back and gave us a huge lift. Kaden is playing some big minutes. Bryce had another good game.”
Kolovitz finished with nine points and 13 rebounds, while senior guard Solomon Oraegbu added 14 points and five rebounds for the Friars.
“RBHS is a good rebounding team and we killed them on the boards,” Peck said. “Lucas played great; he was a man tonight. He’s tough, leads by example and sets the tone for our team with his toughness.”
Peck believes the rigorous schedule the Friars have played this season has already helped his team gradually get better and will serve as great preparation for the playoffs. Fenwick has played 12 teams that are currently ranked or have been ranked at some point in area polls.
“I think we’re heading in the right direction even though we lost tonight,” Peck said. “We need to keep getting better defensively and get stops when we need them. Sometimes when we’re not playing great offensively, our defense suffers. You’re not always going to make shots, but you’ve always got to get stops.”