A trip to the Pontiac Holiday Tournament — the state’s oldest winter-break tournament — is always special, but it can be a short one.
Talent runs deep at the 16-team tourney, and this year from Wednesday-Friday, Dec. 28-30, it hosted six of the top 15 teams in the Chicago Sun-Times Super 25 (Dec. 25). So while a 2-2 outcome did not match New Trier’s goals, coach Scott Fricke isn’t taking it for granted.
“It was a great opportunity and a great tournament,” he said. “It’s special to be able to play four games out there. It’s very possible for teams to lose two and go home. We love the opportunity to play top teams in the state.”
In those opportunities, the Trevians (No. 10) went toe to toe with two of the state’s best — Curie (No. 12) and Bloom (No. 15) — only to fall just short in the waning minutes of both games.
New Trier opened the tournament Dec. 28 with a 63-50 win over Warren in which senior Jake Fiegen scored 28 points to kick off his All-Tournament Team run.
The Trevs’ quarterfinal bout with Curie on Dec. 29 was a game of runs, but behind standout Carlos Harris (19 points), the Condors outlasted the Trevians 50-44. Fiegen posted a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
In the third quarter of the matchup, New Trier used a 10-0 run to take a lead, but Curie responded with a run of its own, using its transition offense to keep the Trevians’ defense off-balance.
And on the other end, New Trier went cold from the floor.
“I think we got some really good looks, especially in the second half; they just didn’t fall, and that happens,” Fiegen said. “But defensively, we were (winning) and they just went on a long run. … They struggled to score on us in the half-court. We needed to stop transition, and we couldn’t do that.”
Falling to the mini fifth-place bracket, New Trier dispensed of host Pontiac 72-38 on Friday, Dec. 30. Three Trevians finished in double figures — Fiegen (12 points), Tyler Van Gorp (11) and Ian Brown (10). Charlie Peters and Colby Smith added 9 and 8 points, respectively.
A few hours later, New Trier and Bloom, who lost to eventual champ Simeon, matched up in a battle for fifth place.
In a close game throughout, the Blazing Trojans out-rebounded the Trevians 21-13 to help them pick up a 50-47 victory. New Trier missed a last-second three to tie the game.
“We’re a defensive-minded team and … we need to down the stretch make plays defensively and take charges and get big rebounds,” Fricke said. “Against teams like Curie and Bloom, who are huge and athletic, we gotta get it done. We gotta get better at that.”
Simeon topped Benet Academy 52-39 in the championship game, while Curie bested Joliet West 65-55 in the third-place game.
Simeon’s Jalen Griffith won the A.C. Williamson Trophy as the tournament’s MVP. Fiegen joined him on the All-Tournament first team along with Joliet West’s Jeremy Fears Jr. and Benet’s Niko Abusara and Brayden Fagbemi.
Fiegen scored the most points in the tournament with 88, an average of 22 a game, while shooting 58 percent (24 of 48) from the field and 88 percent (23 of 26) from the free-throw line.
He made the second team in 2021, when teammate Jackson Munro made the first team and New Trier finished third.
“It means a lot,” Fiegen said of his selection. “I’ve worked really hard to get to this point. There is a lot of talent here; it’s stacked with top 10, top 20 teams. I feel honored to be part of the (first) team.
“I’ve stared to put my game together more and expand it beyond the three-point line, getting to the free-throw line.”