Fenwick Friars end Streaks' season

by John Ring

Since the amazing Silver Streak run of basketball success started over a decade ago, they have run into some pretty good basketball players on opposing teams.

That makes a lot of sense, given the fact that Galesburg has won 9 straight Sectionals and has brought back five trophies since 1994.

Most of you remember their names— players such as Amanda Levens (Belvidere), Aminati Yanni (Machesney Park Harlem), Kourtney Walton (Marshall), Allison Curtin (Taylorville) and Olga Gvozdenovic (Loyola).

They come and go. Mostly go, because most of those schools have suffered from their absence while the Silver Streak program succeeds with a wide cast of characters.

But after Galesburg’s quarterfinal loss to Fenwick last Friday, you would have to rate Erin Lawless as one of the best ever to go up against the Streaks.

Lawless hit her first five shots, gave the Friars a 17-8 lead and the Streaks shooting woes (24% for the game) led to Fenwick’s quarterfinal victory at State.

"Obviously, Fenwick shut us down," said Streaks Coach Evan Massey. "We got some good looks but could never get our shots to drop. We just couldn’t reward ourselves on offense."

That was a shame because the Streaks— thanks to a diamond and one zone defense that featured Elizabeth Hauslein— shut down the 6’2" Lawless for the entire second quarter. After Amanda Gunther scored and cut the lead to 21-15, Lawless clubbed Hauslein with an elbow and picked up her third foul with just 2:25 left in the half.

But instead of cutting the lead further, Hauslein missed the front end of a one and one bonus at the foul line and Gunther missed a shot. Breanne Smilie’s jump shot then gave Fenwick a 23-15 halftime lead.

"Things looked good for us late in the first half," said Massey "but instead of going in down by four, it was eight points."

"I thought that was pretty big," said Fenwick Coach David Power. "You don’t want a team like Galesburg to get the lead on you because they can make things difficult. We wanted to get the lead and keep it."

Lawless capped a 9-0 Friar run to start the third period with another jumper and the Streaks never caught up. Lawless finished with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.

"She’s one of the best post players I’ve ever gone up against," said Gunther, who finished with 17 points for the Streaks. "I thought that Ali (Bauchman) did a good job on her but she couldn’t miss, especially early in the game."

"I normally don’t start like that," said Lawless, who will be attending Purdue University. "That was kind of rare for me."

Fenwick held off every challenge the Streaks could throw at them. Gunther was the only player to score in double figures. Casey Berry suffered a severely sprained ankle in the third period and had to leave the game.

"We wanted to stop their penetration," said Power. "Every game, we try to take out the other teams point guard because the name of our game is putting pressure on the other team. But [Jenna] Bicego did a good job and didn’t turn the ball over. She didn’t score a lot but she stood up to our pressure."

The physical play of Fenwick’s guards seemed to force the Streaks farther out on the perimeter before setting up their offense. Galesburg always seemed off balance and was never able to get into any rhythem.

Massey took time after the game to praise his team which finished with a 32-4 record. "The absolute consistency of this team was amazing and that led to a great work ethic and a great season. I’m very proud of this team."

Power also reflected on the Galesburg basketball program. "I don’t know him well," said Power of Massey, "but he’s a great coach. We’ve even borrowed some from them on the fast break that they run. Watching his team is like a coaching clinic. They do some great things."

Massey acknowledged the play of Lawless. "I’d put her in the class of Nora Lewis," said Massey of the former Richwoods star. "Lewis wasn’t as big as Lawless but both are awfully good."

But the Streaks coach, while crediting Fenwick, still blamed the loss on just plain, old cold shooting. "I realize that Fenwick’s defense effected our shooting some," said Massey, "but for us to go 5 for 28 in the second half leaves one with an empty feeling. We shot 45 per cent for the season. If we just had an average shooting day, who knows?"