CHICAGO — After Fenwick jumped out to an early lead, Oak Park River Forest made Friday’s game at the Chicago Elite Classic a battle in the second half. But the Friars held off the Huskies’ comeback and won 48-40 to remain unbeaten this season.
“They got us pretty good this summer, and I think that was in the back of our guys’ mind a little bit,” Fenwick coach Rick Malnati said. “But I like our team.”
Junior point guard Mike Smith and sophomore Jamal Nixon paced Fenwick (5-0) throughout. Smith finished with 18 points while Nixon flirted with a double. The 6-foot-4 guard/forward scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Senior guard Dallis Flowers led Oak Park with 21 points.
Oak Park used various sorts of pressure, both in the full and half courts. Smith and the Friars broke the pressure with ease in the first half but struggled a bit more in the second.
“I think we handled [the pressure] well, but not great,” Smith said. “We could work on that and just learn from this experience.”
After trailing by 13 points at halftime, Oak Park came all the way back to cut Fenwick’s lead to one point. Then Nixon converted a layup to begin a 13-6 that put the Friars back in complete control.
Smith scored seven points in the fourth quarter as Fenwick came away victorious.
“It was fun, playing against our rival,” Smith said. “A lot of fans from both teams talking, going on all week. I’m glad we got the win.”