ST. CLAIR TWP. — Crunch time belonged to Fenwick High School’s boys basketball team Tuesday night.
Beyond that, the Falcons had to scratch and claw their way toward a season-opening 48-38 road victory over Edgewood at Ron Kash Court.
“We buckled down when we needed to and got it done,” said Fenwick senior guard Jared Morris, who scored seven of his 10 points in the last seven minutes. “It wasn’t perfect, but getting a win under our belt is a good step going forward.
TUESDAY NIGHT BASKETBALL COVERAGE
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“We’ve got a lot to work on. I think if we really work on the chemistry between the bigs and the guards, working the ball inside and kicking it back out, we can beat anybody. But we’ve really got to tune things up.”
Falcons coach Pat Kreke was glad that his team got challenged physically by an Edgewood squad that began its season with a 41-24 win over Monroe last Friday.
Fenwick totaled 10 turnovers, and Kreke felt that was a few too many. But the visitors got enough production from their bigs — senior C.J. Napier (16 points, six rebounds) and sophomore A.J. Braun (11 points, 10 boards) — in addition to a trio of 3-pointers from junior Dan Luers in his varsity debut.
“From the first day until now, I think we’re a little behind where I thought we would be, especially taking care of the basketball,” Kreke said. “There’s always some first-game stuff that happens, there’s no doubt about that. The good news was I really thought the kids handled it down the the stretch really well. I thought they kept their composure and did what they had to do with rebounding and offensively.”
The Falcons finished the game with a nine-point run, holding the Cougars scoreless after Gabe Allen’s driving layup got the Cougars within 39-38 with 2:49 remaining.
Napier was 7-of-8 and Morris was 2-of-2 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, and Fenwick was 13-of-17 overall. Edgewood didn’t attempt a free throw all evening.
“I think the biggest difference tonight was they dominated the glass,” Cougars coach John Thomas said. “I don’t know how many second-chance points they had, but I can tell you it was more than us.
“We typically do a better job around the basket finishing or getting fouled, and we didn’t shoot a free throw all night. I don’t want that to be out of context. We didn’t get fouled, and if you don’t get fouled, you don’t shoot free throws.”
Johnathan Shepherd, a transfer from Carlisle, led Edgewood with 11 points off the bench. Isaiah Gambrell added eight.
The Cougars’ zone defense made it difficult for Fenwick to score down low with the 6-foot-5 Napier and 6-8 Braun. Gambrell, a 6-7 senior, was a key part of that.
“Defense is what we pride ourselves on this year,” he said. “We know we’re not going to light up the scoreboard, but we know if we can hold teams down, we can come out with some wins.”
“They collapsed well on our bigs,” Kreke said. “John did a great job getting his kids ready in that zone. That’s what Edgewood does. They’re a nice, physical team.”
Gambrell, Peyton Daley and Eric Brooks collected four rebounds apiece for the Cougars. They will continue nonconference play Saturday at Madison.
Edgewood entered the season with very little varsity experience, but Gambrell said the team believes in its ability to play at a high level.
“We just want to show up every night and perform like we’re taught,” he added. “I think the sky’s the limit for us. If we can get some things together, we can be real successful.”
“Based on where we’re at right now, I think we’ve made some steps as a team,” Thomas said. “The kids know we’ve got to get better, and they’ll respond. They’ll be at practice tomorrow. They’ll be on time. They’ll be on the floor. They’ll continue to work hard.”
The Falcons will begin Greater Catholic League Coed Division play at home Friday against Roger Bacon. Fenwick is the defending GCLC North Division champion.
“We have the same goal as last year — we want to win the GCL again,” Morris said. “We expect nothing less. I know some people don’t expect us to be up at the top, but we’re not going to sell ourselves short. We’re going for it all over again.”
FENWICK (1-0): Caleb Davis 1 0 2; Jared Morris 3 2 10; A.J. Braun 4 3 11; C.J. Napier 4 8 16; Dan Luers 3 0 9. Totals: 15-13-48
EDGEWOOD (1-1): Peyton Daley 2 0 4; Zach Hamilton 2 0 4; Gabe Allen 2 0 4; Eric Brooks 1 0 2; Isaiah Gambrell 4 0 8; Johnathan Shepherd 4 0 11; Aaron Frazier 2 0 5. Totals: 17-0-38
3-pointers: F 5 (Luers 3, Morris 2), E 4 (Shepherd 3, Frazier)