Scott Dalton said in the preseason he thought his Fenwick High School girls basketball team could surprise some people this year.
It didn’t take long for that to happen.
The Falcons (2-1) earned their first win over Alter in at least 12 years on Saturday, ending a 23-game losing streak against the three-time defending state champion Knights since the two became Greater Catholic League foes. Dalton wasn’t sure if Fenwick has ever beaten Alter.
“I kept telling them believe in the system, believe what we’ve been putting in — no matter what, keep believing,” said Dalton, who is in his first season as head coach of the Falcons. “That’s what I told them at the beginning of the game.
“They are the defending state champions the last three years and a prestigious program up there, so it was a great win for us. Our girls really battled hard and did a good job on them. I’m really proud of their determination and effort.”
The win was memorable, but the celebrations ended Saturday night.
Fenwick has another tall task in its next game Wednesday against visiting Badin, which features two 6-foot-1 post players in Emma Broermann and Claire McCurley and Division I college prospect Shelby Nusbaum at guard.
“It will help us going forward. However, I think we have one of the best teams in the GCL coming up with Badin on Wednesday,” Dalton said. “We’ll take the victory against Alter, but we face a really good team coming up. We had a good time in the locker room Saturday night and then it was time to get back to preparing for Badin.”
Fenwick opened the season with a narrow loss to Edgewood in a game where the Falcons just didn’t shoot well. Dalton said even with that defeat, he’s seen tremendous improvement since last year, especially with the guard play, which was evident against Alter.
The Falcons stunned Alter with a hard-to-break press and won 49-40 after pulling away in the third quarter, despite leading scorer Jenna Adams getting into early foul trouble inside and finishing with zero points. The Knights had 20 turnovers, and the Falcons took advantage with their new up-tempo game helping them succeed in getting to the basket, where they ended up drawing several fouls to go 24 of 36 on free throws.
Hannah Tebbe and Hannah Beckman combined to make 19 of 25 free throws, and guard Anna Beebe had a number of deflections and steals to spark the defense, Dalton said.
“We opened up some space, and we pressed them most of the game and caused them to have some turnovers,” Dalton said. “We converted and did a good job.”
As surprising as the end result might have been, given Alter’s powerhouse status, the Falcons weren’t necessarily surprised to come out on top.
Fenwick junior Elena Daly, who scored 12 points off the bench, said the team had a good summer and preseason together and shared their coach’s high expectations coming into the season.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Daly said. “Our coaches have been helping us since the summer and preseason, and it’s not an individual thing. Our team works well together, and it’s fun the way we are playing. We’re pressing, trapping. We’re a fast team just trying to go up and down the floor, and it’s working well.”
Daly said the win provides some reassurance the program is headed in the right direction this season, after finishing 7-15 a year ago.
“It’s a big accomplishment to beat a team like that,” Daly said. “It really gives us confidence we can have a chance at being GLC champions. We put in 100-percent effort, and we’re really excited about the win and what we’re capable of this season.”