Being a point guard, Mike Smith is expected to have an innate grasp on the game. He takes the emotional current of his team and responds in kind.
He also knows how to predict the flow of games. “When we came in at half, I got the team together and told them the run was coming,” the sophomore Fenwick guard said.
Smith poured in a career-high 24 points and added five rebounds and three steals as the host Friars powered past De La Salle 67-55 in a matchup of top Catholic programs Thursday night in Oak Park.
After De La Salle freshman guard Karl Harris (eight points) capped a 10-0 Meteors run for their only lead of the game at 37-36 midway through the third quarter, Smith took control by scoring seven points as Fenwick answered with its own 10-0 burst.
“We did a much better job of executing and running our offense,” Smith said.
Smith and senior forward Dan Planek took turns dominating the first half. Smith scored 10 points in the first quarter and Planek scored nine of his 16 points in the second quarter as Fenwick built a 34-26 lead at the break.
Planek added a team-best 10 rebounds.
The Meteors were undone also by horrendous free throw shooting in the third quarter. Fenwick collected six team fouls in the opening 3:16 of the third quarter. De La Salle converted just 5 of 13 free throws in the quarter, and 7 of 19 for the game.
“Some of them were one-and-ones, so it was worse than a turnover,” De La Salle coach Tom White said.
Fenwick shot 22-for-32 at the line.
Foul trouble also slowed Meteors’ star 6-5 junior wing Brandon Hutton, who scored a season-low four points on 1-for-7 shooting before fouling out with a minute to play.
“He spent more time on the bench next to me than in the game,” White said.
Junior guard Martez Cameron kept the Meteors close by scoring 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. Smith had his own answer. He scored seven points in the fourth quarter to top his previous personal best of 23 points.
“On that third-quarter run, I had some nice passes and I made a tough layup and was fouled and we got on a good roll,” he said. “Coming off a loss in our last game (against Lyons), we knew we had to play better against a 2-3 zone and we did that tonight.”
Senior center Dan Dwyer added nine points as seven players scored for the Friars.
Senior Paulius Zabalevicius scored 12 points for the Meteors.
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