Standing 6 feet, 6 inches tall, St. Ignatius senior boys basketball player Richard Barron can do a lot of damage inside or outside.

The George Mason signee stepped up when the Wolfpack needed it most during the second half of the IHSA Class 3A De La Salle sectional final March 3 against Fenwick High School. He scored 16 of his game-high 26 points to hand the Friars a season-ending 50-43 defeat. 

It’s the second consecutive year Fenwick has been eliminated in the state tournament by St. Ignatius in the sectionals.

“I’m not upset that we lost,” coach Tony Young said. “We’re a young team, and things happen. We’ve just got to grow and learn from this.”

Buoyed by strong play from J.T. Pettigrew, Fenwick (21-13) led St. Ignatius (23-11) 16-10 with five minutes remaining in the first half.

“J.T. played great and competed hard for us tonight,” Young said of the 6-6 sophomore, who had 11 of his team-high 17 points in the first half and grabbed nine rebounds.

But Barron, scoring eight points, keyed a closing 13-5 spurt that gave the Wolfpack a 23-21 halftime lead.

St. Ignatius opened up a 34-29 advantage in the third quarter and seemed poised to pull away. But Fenwick closed with a 7-2 run and trailed 36-34 heading into the final eight minutes.

The Friars were down 42-41 with 4:18 remaining, but Barron went on a personal 5-0 run over the next 2:30 to give the Wolfpack some breathing room.

“Things we’ve been able to get away with this season, Richard Barron made us pay for them tonight,” Young said. “He made big shots in the clutch, that’s why he’s a [NCAA] Division I kid.”

A basket by sophomore Nate Marshall (9 points) with 1:30 left brought Fenwick to within four, but Owen Kyhl hit two free throws with 41 seconds to go. After Pettigrew missed a pair of 3-pointers, Barron hit a game-clinching free throw with 9.7 seconds left.

“It sucks to lose, but the reality is that this is something we can learn from,” Young said. 

Sophomore D.J. Porter scored eight points and had three rebounds while Dominick Ducree added six points for the Friars.

Fenwick’s 21 wins is an impressive accomplishment, given that there are 11 sophomores on the roster. It’s a 12-win improvement from last season.

Junior Darshan Thomas was voted to the Chicago Catholic League All-Conference Third Team, while Marshall and Porter were Honorable Mention.

“I’m proud of the way we competed and did things the right way,” said Young. “Tonight, the ball didn’t bounce our way, and that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes. But the goal was to be better by the end of the year, and I think we continued to grow.”

The Friars lose only one senior to graduation in E.J. Hosty.

“Let’s work on our efficiencies and get our bodies stronger,” Young said of the offseason plan. “It’s about getting better individually and as a group.”

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