The narrative surrounding Fenwick’s boys basketball team this season has been that it is too young to compete for a state title.
The Friars have other ideas.
After outscoring its opponents 168-74 in the first two games of regionals, Fenwick (25-7) is riding high heading into the sectional semifinal game versus Westinghouse on March 10.
“Everybody on this team can play,” said sophomore Trey Pettigrew. “We are a young group that still can improve but we are ready now. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Fenwick beat Speer Academy 90-27 earlier in the week, and hosted Walter Payton (7-20) on March 6 for the regional title. After the first quarter, the Friars held an 18-11 advantage behind 16 combined points from Bryce Hopkins and Pettigrew.
It wasn’t until two minutes into the second quarter when the Friar offense started clicking on all cylinders. After Walter Payton narrowed the gap to 23-19, one of the Grizzlies’ players started to mouthing off to Hopkins which is something he has dealt with all season.
“When they start talking, that just adds fuel to my fire,” said Hopkins. “I don’t worry about it. I just play my game and I end up proving them wrong. My shot was working, and I just kept going back to that the rest of the game.”
Hopkins scored 19 points from that point on in the second quarter and led the Friars to a 27-2 run that essentially put the game away. The play of the night came when Hopkins stole the ball at midcourt and pulled off a one-handed poster dunk over a Walter Payton defender that had everyone in the gym in disbelief. Hopkins was fouled on the play and the officials let 40 seconds lapse between the foul and free throw attempt so the crowd could calm down.
“I haven’t had one of those since last year,” said Hopkins. “It was fun to be able to feel that again and for everyone to be hyped up after it. It was good time.”
Later in the quarter, Pettigrew tried to pull off a similar dunk after seeing his teammate throw down a one-handed slam.
“Oh yeah, I definitely tried to match him,” said Pettigrew with a grin. “I tried to punch it on [the defender]. I’ll get him next time for sure.”
Hopkins was pulled with 5:15 left in the third quarter and ended the game with 32 points. Pettigrew finished with 13 points and six assists. Sophomore David Gieser buried three three-pointers and has proved over the season he can be one of the difference makers for this team beyond the arc as the Friars try to vie for a run at the state championship.
“Besides Bryce [Hopkins] and Trey [Pettigrew], David Gieser had a great game,” said Fenwick head coach Staunton Peck after the game. “We have a really good rotation going right now and Max [Reese] and Gabe [Madej] are stepping us for us as well. We are in a good place right now but we are about to face another level of competition. I am not sure who we will play but both Westinghouse and North Lawndale are good teams so we have to stay focused and prepare for what comes next.”