With only one junior, Darshan Thomas, and one senior, E.J. Hosty, on the roster, having an 18-12 record entering this year’s IHSA Class 3A tournament is a remarkable achievement for the sophomore-laden Fenwick High School boys’ basketball team.
“I’m proud of how the boys played in the regular season,” said Fenwick coach Tony Young. “I threw a lot at them, and the fact that they caught on and tried to do the right things, I have no complaints.”
Fenwick is well-balanced offensively. Thomas is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 11 points and seven rebounds per game. Sophomore D.J. Porter is averaging 9.5 points and three rebounds per game, sophomores Dominick Ducree and Nate Marshall average seven points per game apiece and sophomores Kameron Hogan and J.T. Pettigrew average six points per game each.
The Friars have also received valuable contributions from sophomores Caleb Burgins, Ty Macariola and Zion Young, as well as Hosty.
“Everyone contributed the way we thought they would,” Young said. “It’s a good group to coach, and I’ve had a lot of fun with them.”
Young is thrilled to have Marshall back. One of the state’s top football prospects in the Class of 2025 who missed most of the year with an injury, Marshall provides a physical presence in the post and is their emotional leader.
“He sets the tone for a lot of our guys,” Young said. “He’s not afraid to say and do the tough things and is our glue to the energy we want.”
With Pettigrew also now fully healthy, Young finally has the team he envisioned in November. He’s interested in seeing how the Friars will fare in the IHSA Class 3A De La Salle Sectional, where they are the No. 4 seed.
“It’s not just about playing hard now, it’s about being smarter,” said Young. “Discipline on both sides of the ball is what matters most.”
Fenwick hosts a regional this week, meeting Steinmetz in the first semifinal Feb. 22 at 6 p.m., followed by Payton Prep vs. Lake View in the second semifinal at 7:30 p.m. The winners meet for the title Feb. 24 at 7 p.m.
“We’ve got to rebound and take care of the ball,” Young said. “Being able to execute our offensive sets is also important. We’re going to find out what we’re made of and how tough we are.”
OPRF faces huge sectional challenge
The Oak Park and River Forest High School boys basketball team was in a rebuilding phase this season, and competing in the rugged West Suburban Conference Silver Division meant there would be challenges.
The Huskies closed the regular season on a six-game losing streak and finished with a 9-18 record. However, eight of the losses came by five points or less.
“When you’ve got a young team, experience is the best teacher,” said OPRF coach Phil Gary. “We could’ve easily flipped that record, but losing a lot of close games is the price of having a lack of experience.”
Now they have to navigate what looks to be the toughest IHSA sectional tournament in the state. The Hinsdale Central Sectional includes three Sun-Times Top 25 WSC Silver teams, three other 20-win schools in Proviso East, Lyons Township and Riverside-Brookfield and perennial Chicago Public League powers Whitney Young and Curie.
The No. 8-seeded Huskies host Lincoln Park in a regional semifinal on Feb. 22 at 7:30 pm. Should OPRF win, top-seeded Whitney Young is the likely opponent for the regional title Feb. 24 at 7 p.m.
“We’re looking forward to all of the challenges,” Gary said.
Senior forward Rodney Murphy, a recent Illinois Institute of Technology commit, has been a bright spot for OPRF. He’s averaging a double-double for the season with 11.8 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.
The Huskies’ leading scorer is junior guard Max Johnson. Despite missing a little over a month due to injury, he’s averaging 15 points per game, while sophomore forward Justin Bowen is averaging 14.7 points per game.
“We need to be better defensively, that’s the main thing,” Gary said. “When we’re locked in, we stay within reach of a lot of good teams. We can get out and run in transition as well as press when we’re focused defensively.”