Fenwick Surprises South
J. C. Tilton
South came into the state tournament seeded and Middletown Fenwick came in with but 3 wins. But the 3 wins by Fenwick were all earned - this season they joined the GCL for the first time. And they are the smallest school in the GCL a league that contains schools such as Alter and Chaminade Julienne. So after being seasoned by playing against bigger, tougher competition they had something to prove in the state tournament. South, on the other hand, has had a streaky season - one night they are an offensive powerhouse, the next night they can't find the gears. This night would be one of the off nights for the team.
Fenwick came out and gained the lead. South answered and were down by 3 at the end of the first quarter. But South couldn't keep pace as the Falcons grew their lead and Coach Augspurger took a time out around the 5 minute mark. South tried a variety of defenses and offenses to try and slow down the Falcons - but tonight nothing seemed to work. They tried to press some - both full court and half court and that didn't work. Offensively they tried a baseline set in the first half and that failed to generate points. South turnovers were converted to points. For South the outside game and the inside game were out of sync, but Fenwick seemed to consistently be able to find an open man and get good shots. Wes Bassler was able to score and had 8 points in the 2nd quarter to keep the Panthers in striking distance. He would lead the Panthers in scoring. Later Coach Augspurger would comment that this was one of the best games that he played. Still at halftime, South was on the wrong end of a 27-18 score.
South's offense was lacking in much of third quarter. Fenwick was able to get their biggest lead of the night with a 15 point lead. Then with about 2 minutes left in the quarter South woke up out of their funk and seemed to realize that something needed to happen and fast. Wes Rehmert, Wes Bassler, and JT Stone (thanks to a put back at the buzzer) all scored and pulled the Panthers back within 10 going in to the last quarter.
The game was on the line and the awakened Panther offense gallantly came to life. Wes Bassler would score another 8 points in the dash to the finish. But Fenwick was not resting either. Two times in the final quarter of the season South drew close to the Falcons only to have them make a little run and re-extend the lead. With a little over a minute left and down by 4 South had to resort to fouling and Fenwick connected on their shots. When time ran down the score was 54-45 Fenwick.
“Before the game I told the team - here's what's going to happen” stated coach Augspurger, “Fenwick is going to come in here highly energized. They are looking at this as we spent the year playing Elder, Moeller, Saint X, Alter, etc. this is a chance to prove ourselves. They came out here with a lot of energy - we had to meet it and we didn't. I told them at half time that I felt like the best negative predictor ever. I've told them at least a half dozen times this year that if we're not ready this is what's going to happen - and it happened. Their kids played a lot hungrier and deserved the win. I think we were a little uptight and that hurt us.”
On the season, “It's been a frustrating year in terms of getting them to understand what we needed to do to be better. Very unsuccessful in getting them to play as well as they wanted to as well as what they were capable of. It was disappointing for all of us. As much as I hated it, this was probably a fitting end - this is how our season has gone. Several times we just have not answered the bell like we need to.” Comments email: Chris Tilton