For the New Trier boys basketball team, returning to competitive play after a 10-day pause due to COVID-19 was challenging enough.
Having to face an unbeaten Glenbrook South team in the first game back from quarantine almost seemed unfair.
Yet the Trevians hung tough on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 20, tying the game late in the fourth quarter before eventually losing 60-53 in Glenview.
Jake Fiegen’s fifth 3-pointer knotted things up at 47 with 2:30 remaining, but the Titans pulled away.
If there is such a thing as a good loss, this would be one for New Trier (1-1). Coach Scott Fricke said he was proud of his team’s effort against a Titans squad that had won every game by double-digit points until Saturday.
Considering the Trevians’ conditioning level wasn’t at its peak because of the time off, the performance was even more impressive.
“We had to play a lot of guys today because we didn’t have our legs,” Fricke said. “It was evident in the fourth quarter when we couldn’t shoot free throws, we missed some shots we normally don’t miss. That doesn’t happen if we don’t have a 10-day layoff. I thought these guys executed well.”
To combat the fatigue, Fricke played 11 Trevians, often substituting five guys in at once.
Junior Josh Kirkpatrick, who tallied 11 points and 4 assists, said the exhaustion set in during the final period.
“After a 10-day break, our legs were a little tired,” Kirkpatrick said. “We played the second squad, and they did a good job. At the end of the fourth quarter, we were a little tired.”
After scoring just 8 points in the first quarter, New Trier’s offense picked up.
Three-pointers from Kirkpatrick and Fiegen gave the Trevians a 20-19 lead midway through the period.
Glenbrook South junior Nick Martinelli — preceded at GBS by brothers Jimmy and Dom — caught fire in the second quarter however. He scored 13 of his game-high 34 points in the period.
At halftime, the score was tied at 30-30.
Like many other teams this season, the Trevians had little answer for the 6-foot-8 Martinelli, who also grabbed 7 rebounds.
“He’s a really good player,” Fricke said. “He was reaching over us and just easily getting rebounds. No one’s really stopped him this year. Obviously we’ve got to do a better job on him.”
It looked like the Titans were pulling away early in the fourth quarter, as they took an eight-point lead. But Fiegen responded with three 3-pointers to put New Trier back in it.
Fiegen, a sophomore, led the Trevians with 15 points.
“Shooting’s not the only thing he does,” Fricke said. “He guards people, he handles the ball well, he’s just a tough kid. To tell you the truth, we’ve seen that in practice, we’re not surprised when he hits threes. We’ve seen it.”
Glenbrook South then scored nine unanswered points and hit six free throws in the final two minutes to clinch the victory.
Juniors Jackson Munro and Peter Kanellos added 8 points each for the Trevians. Kanellos also limited Titans junior Cooper Noard, holding the All-CSL guard to 6 points.
In order to make up for time lost to the COVID-19 pause, New Trier will now prepare to play five games in six days. It’s a tall order, but after seeing how his Trevians competed against one of the better teams in the state, Fricke is confident moving forward.
“I think it shows these kids that we can play with anybody,” Fricke said. “It’s a good combination of some young kids, we play a lot of seniors too, all around we’re solid.”
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Nick Frazier is a freelance writer primarily covering high school sports. He most recently was the sports editor of The Highland Park Landmark and The Lake Forest Leader. You can follow Nick on Twitter at @nikfraz14