OPRF’s Kiera Kleidon (23) and Fenwick’s Mia Caccitolo (2) chase down the ball during their crosstown showdown on Feb. 10 at Fenwick High School. The Friars made a late run to outpace the Huskies 45-39. | Sara Janz/Contributor

A technical foul assessed against Oak Park and River Forest High School after a parent went onto the court to attend to her injured daughter turned out to be the pivotal moment in their game against crosstown rival Fenwick on Feb. 10, which the Friars ended up winning 45-39.

OPRF led the back-and-forth contest with 3:43 left after a three-pointer by Lilah Gery (game-high 17 points) and a basket by Reese Garland. Fenwick regained the lead after a basket by Audrey Hinrichs (team-high 15 points), but a scramble for a loose ball with 2:08 remaining resulted in the game’s biggest and most controversial moment.

Huskies guard Darnesha Fraley was wrestling a Fenwick player for possession when Fraley fell and hit her head hard on the court. Team trainers came out to check on Fraley, as did her mother, Kimberly Fuller. Afterwards, Fuller said Fraley had a bad headache and that her status for the state tournament was uncertain.

A couple of students were laughing and pointing at my daughter, and I got irritated. I tried everything I could to not say anything

Kimberly fuller

“It was like a bowling ball hitting the court,” said Fuller of her daughter’s blow to the head. “I ran out to the court — the first time I’ve ever done that — and I was scared because Darnesha was holding her head and shaking.”

As Fuller and the trainers looked at Fraley, she asked her son to get her phone because she was planning to call an ambulance. But she then looked at the Fenwick student section, who she felt were being unsportsmanlike.

“A couple of students were laughing and pointing at my daughter, and I got irritated. I tried everything I could to not say anything,” Fuller said. “What if she had a concussion? What if she had died on the court?”

Fuller said she yelled at the students and headed towards them, but was restrained by OPRF coach Carlton Rosemond. Fraley was able to walk off the court with some assistance, but a referee hit the Huskies, who would’ve retained possession, with a technical foul. 

That gave the Friars two free throws, which Mira Schwanke (10 points) converted, and possession of the ball.

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“The referee told me he had no choice but to give us a technical,” Rosemond said. “I’ve coached for 20 years and I’ve never seen a parent not come onto the floor when their kid gets hurt. [The referee] said [Fuller] yelled at him and that she couldn’t do that. I told him you’re taking the opportunity out of the girls’ hands. It’s a critical moment. But he said he had no choice. It was hard.”

Fenwick coach Dave Power, who was leading the Friars for the last time in a regular-season game on a night where Fenwick named the fieldhouse gym court after him, called the moment “an unfortunate play that marred the game.”

OPRF did manage to stop Fenwick on its possession and had a chance to tie, but Libby Majka missed a three-pointer with less than a minute to play. The Friars then sealed the game by making three free throws.

For his part, Rosemond was happy with the effort that the Huskies produced.

“A game like this, we would’ve lost by double digits earlier in the season,” he said. “But I’m proud of how we competed. Crosstown rivalries are different from other games, and I’m glad coach Power and I were able to get this on the schedule. It was a lot of fun and a great atmosphere.”

Fenwick used a 9-0 run over the final two minutes of the first half to take a 29-19 halftime lead. But OPRF scored the first nine points of the second half, then Martha Lipic scored six of her 10 points to give the Huskies a 34-33 lead after three quarters.

The Friars scored the first five points of the fourth quarter, but OPRF countered with a 5-0 run that gave the Huskies a 39-38 lead with 3:43 remaining.

“That technical killed us,” Rosemond said. “It took the opportunity out of our girls’ hands to finish the game.”

Despite the loss, Rosemond felt glad to be able to coach against Power.

“I tweeted that it was an honor and privilege to share the sideline with a legend,” he said. “This man has done a lot for girls’ basketball.”

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