The Austin boys basketball team’s impressive postseason run came to a halt the hard way on Friday night in the fieldhouse at Oak Park and River Forest High School. The Tigers never saw what hit them in an 87-57 regional title loss to Fenwick that brought their season to a close with a 13-14 overall record.
Perhaps still reeling from a 55-53 upset of Oak Park in the semifinals on March 1, Austin watched a two-point deficit swell to 17 by halftime. The Tigers’ Huey Irving kept his team in check to start the game, nailing two three-pointers, including one that tied the score at 13-13. Propelled by the play of Peter Flowers, Fenwick began to steamroll its opponent in the second quarter.
Flowers, a 6-foot-6-inch senior forward, scored 11 of his 18 first half points in the second period, and the Friars took a monstrous 42-25 lead at the break. Irving was held to 10 points in the first half.
Things didn’t get much better for the Tigers after the intermission. While Flowers, who finished with 22 points, took a rest, Tim Shaw went to work. Shaw rattled off 13 points in the third quarter. He finished with 15 for the night.
“Everything was really clicking for us tonight from the start,” said Fenwick head coach John Quinn after the game. “Our guards were finding open players, and Peter and Tim got hot at different times. We weren’t going to look past Austin, especially after what happened with Oak Park.”
Irving closed out his high school basketball career with 25 points, 12 of which came in the final minutes of the third period with Fenwick’s reserves on the court.
“They took us out of our game and we had no way to recover,” said Austin assistant coach Bob Vostal of Fenwick. “It all seemed to happen so fast.”
Fenwick’s crowd, near capacity on the east side of the fieldhouse, roared when Shaw executed the long forgotten sky hook outside the key in the second period.
Despite the lopsided loss, Austin wasn’t without its crowd awing moments. Irving raised eyebrows in the second half with his quick ball handling skills. The senior guard buckled the knees of a Fenwick defender on a wicked spin move in the third period.
Austin loses nine seniors to graduation, including starters Irving, Daryal Weaver, Alonza Thorton and Jamal Dixon, who tallied 16 points in the loss. The only starter from this season expected to return next year is 6-foot guard Steve Jones.
“This wasn’t exactly how we wanted things to end,” said Vostal. “But the older players can look back at the success they had winning the first round of the regional.”