Basketball is a fluid game. Injuries alter the rotation for every team. Amid the volatility, Kevin Owens has been a constant for Fenwick.
The Fenwick guard did his damage early, creating a dominant tone the No. 24 Friars used to easily dispose of Von Steuben in a 60-26 first-round thrashing Thursday at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament in Hillside.
In new Fenwick coach Rick Malnati’s tournament debut, the Friars advance to meet undefeated state power Rockford Auburn in the second round Friday.
Owens hit two three-pointers in the first quarter as the Friars scored the game’s opening 11 points and never looked back. Fenwick (9-2) limited the winless Panthers (0-7) to single-digit scoring in three of the four quarters.
Owens scored eight points as Fenwick posted a 25-11 advantage at the break. Fenwick’s best player, Northwestern recruit Scott Lindsey, remains out with a leg injury. Starting guard Keshaun Smith is also out after suffering an ankle injury.
“My role really changes from game to game,” Owens said. “[Sophomore point guard] Michael Smith is the one the offense normally runs through, but I was open early and my teammates did a great job of finding me,” he said.
A one-time Public League power struggling to carve out a different identity, the Panthers opened the game by missing their first nine shots. David McDaniel (eight points) finally ended the drought by scoring on a short jumper off the glass with 1:41 in the first quarter.
Forward Tom Planek powered the Friars with 14 points and eight rebounds. He scored eight straight points on consecutive putbacks he converted into three-point plays as Fenwick’s lead gradually swelled in the third quarter.
Fenwick’s other post player, Dan Dwyer, scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Smith shook off a slow start to play his customary all-around excellent game with eight points, six rebounds and two assists.
The length of Planek and Dwyer constantly stymied the Panthers, who shot 5-of-26 (19 percent) in the first half and just 24 percent (11-of-47) for the game. Von Steuben missed all seven of its three-point attempts.
“Everything starts with our defense,” Owens said. “Our defense was a lot more consistent than our offense tonight, and it’s where we got our energy.”
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