By Melvin Tate
Most local high school sports followers know about the rivalry between Oak Park-River Forest and Fenwick high schools. But the rivalry between Fenwick and Trinity is just as intense if not more, especially given both schools are in the same conference - the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference Red.
The latest installment of this matchup played out on the basketball court on Dec. 10 at Sister Michelle Germanson Gym in River Forest. In front of a large crowd, the Friars secured a hard-fought 41-36 victory over the host Blazers.
"That's what a rivalry is all about," said Fenwick coach Dave Power on the intense atmosphere. "It was a fun game, and I knew it was going to be like this. We had trouble knocking down shots and were a little erratic, but when we needed it, we put the pedal to the metal."
Despite the loss, Trinity coach Kim Coleman was pleased with her team's effort.
"It was a tough one, we fought," said Coleman. "They're a top-15 team in the state and I thought we gave them a game. I'm proud of the way we fought, and I know how good our team can be. We've just got to keep working.
Both the Friars (11-0) and Blazers (7-3) came out with tremendous defensive intensity, and it showed on the scoreboard. Fenwick led 9-8 after one quarter, but Trinity's Makiyah Williams scored all seven of her team's points in the second quarter to force a 15-15 tie at halftime.
Williams continued to put the Blazers on her back in the third quarter, scoring another 7 points. But Fenwick forwards Elise Heneghan and Audrey Hinrichs came alive in the post as they combined for 10 points to give the Friars a 29-27 lead heading into the fourth.
"We work really well together," said Heneghan of the chemistry with Hinrichs. "We've been playing with each other for so many years. If Audrey's open, I'll pass it to her, and vice versa."
The Fenwick defense went to a man-to-man defense in the fourth quarter and kept Williams off the scoreboard. Yet, Trinity hung in thanks to two clutch three-pointers by Maddie Miller, and the lead seesawed between the teams.
A pair of Hinrichs baskets midway through the quarter gave the Friars the lead for good. With Fenwick holding a 37-36 lead, Mia Caccitolo scored a key basket with :37 remaining, then Heneghan would seal the win for the Friars with two free throws with 9.1 seconds left.
"I thought we played great defense, it kept us in the game," said Power. "This was the coldest shooting night we've had this year, but I like the way our girls fought to the end. We needed a close game to see how we would respond. Our backs were against the wall, and Trinity kept pushing, but we had some nice fourth-quarter moments. It wasn't our best game, but I think the rivalry had a lot to do with it."
Williams finished with a game-high 16 points while adding 10 rebounds, and Coleman offered the ultimate compliment to her star junior.
"Makiyah's committed to winning, she wants to win," Coleman said. "She's willing to do whatever it takes. With our starting point guard (Zyerra Stafford) being out, Makiyah is taking on more of the load and wants the team to be successful."
Miller finished with 9 points and Liza Montgomery added 5 points and 3 rebounds for the Blazers.
Heneghan finished with a team-high 13 points and added 8 rebounds for Fenwick. Hinrichs tallied 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists and Lily Reardon and Katie Schneider each grabbed 5 rebounds for the Friars.
Fenwick tacked on three more wins later in the week - a 63-33 home triumph over St, Joseph (Dec.12), followed by victories over Bloom (43-31) and Comer (62-42) at the Marian Catholic Christmas Tournament on Dec. 14.
Trinity bounced back from the Fenwick loss with a 57-43 victory over visiting Resurrection - with Williams scoring 35 points, but then lost at Montini 50-33.
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