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Maine South foils Fenwick at its own game

12/28/2012, 10:47pm CST
By Matt Le Cren

Maine South outran Fenwick to earn a 69-61 victory and berth in Saturday’s Dundee-Crown Charger Classic title game.

Fenwick’s pell-mell style of play, which features relentless full-court pressure and a run-and-gun offense, intimidates most opponents.

Not Maine South.

Not only did the No. 20 Hawks withstand the pressure, they emulated No. 12 Fenwick’s signature strategy of frequent line changes. The gambit worked as Maine South rallied from a nine-point deficit with a huge fourth quarter to knock off the Friars 69-61 Friday night in the semifinals of the 30th annual Dundee-Crown Charger Classic.

The Hawks (15-2) will take on No. 16 Naperville Central (16-1) in Saturday’s championship game.

“We played Galesburg about 2 ½ weeks ago,” said Maine South coach Mark Smith, who had never beaten Fenwick during his eight-year tenure. “They run the Grinnell [College] offense. We beat them and held them to 45 points, their season-low by 30. Fenwick’s style is not exactly what Galesburg’s is, but that game showed this team what we can do against that type of pressure.”

The Hawks gained confidence from taking a 21-14 lead after the first quarter. But that period ended when Jade Owens drained a half-court shot for Fenwick, which sparked the Friars into a 25-point second quarter.

Fenwick built its lead to 50-41 on a three-pointer by Maggie Reilly wit 4:20 left in the third quarter, but the Hawks cut the gap to 51-47 by the end of the stanza and started to break the press with regularity as guards Mackenzie Duffy, Regan Carmichael and Erin Kieny consistently found the seams.

“It was a much faster game,” Maine South forward Hailey Schoneman said. “We’re not used to that kind of speed but I think we controlled it a lot better than they did. We made it our speed instead of theirs.

“Everyone had good composure in the press. When we threw it [long] everyone was making their layups and their threes, so that helped a lot.”

Schoneman, a 6-0 junior, was on the receiving end of many of those passes. She scored a career-high 18 points to go with seven rebounds and two blocks.

Schoneman tallied four points late in the third quarter and added six more in the fourth, including the layup that tied the game at 51-51 and another layup off a pass from Kieny that followed the go-ahead three-pointer by Duffy with 6:38 left and capped a 15-1 run.

“I think we figured out their offense more and their press more,” Schoneman said. “We knew the loopholes so I think that helped. Everyone had a lot of confidence and we were cheering each other on.”

Fenwick (12-2) pulled within 58-56 on a trey by Jade Owens and trailed by three when Carmichael and Duffy scored off turnovers. Fenwick’s Jenny Mackowiak sank a three to make it 65-61, but Schoneman made two free throws with 1:37 left, then blocked a shot by Owens, which led to another layup by Carmichael.

“At the end it was kind of scary with the free throws,” Schoneman said. “I knew I had to nail those and I just wanted to get those so bad so we could extend our lead and make it harder for them to come back because they’re a great team. They make threes like crazy.”

The Friars did make 10 three-pointers but shot only 22-for-64 overall, including 7-for-27 in the second half.

“We had a nice lead and I tried to get them to come out of their zone and it just threw us off our game,” Fenwick coach Dave Power said. “It was a bad move on my part. I take full responsibility. That just took the air right out of us and then in the fourth quarter we had a rough mix in there and they took full advantage. They scored about 10 points in 1:20 and they lived off of that 10.”

Center Jacqui Grant had 17 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for Maine South, while Duffy added 11 points, five steals, five boards and three assists and Carmichael chipped in eight points, five steals and three assists.

Owens led Fenwick with 15 points. Evan Brundage added 12 points and Mackowiak and Deja Cage each scored 11.

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