New Trier boys basketball will take home a state trophy, just not the one it came for.
In the semifinal round, the Trevians (31-5) became the latest victims of the most dominant team in IHSA Class 4A, Benet Academy (35-1), falling 65-49 on Friday afternoon, March 10, at the University of Illinois’ State Farm Center in Champaign.
Benet used a 20-4 first-half run to grab a 15-point lead, but the New Trier continued to battle, stealing all of the momentum of the third quarter — until its final moment.
“These guys battled their brains out. They played really hard,” Trevians coach Scott Fricke said. “At the end of the third quarter was a huge momentum play, where we got (the lead) down (to eight) and … they with 1.5 seconds left hit a deep three at the buzzer.”
The three pushed the Redwings’ lead back to 11, and the Trevians’ early fourth-quarter points — six from Jake Fiegen — were not as impactful.
Early on, Fricke said the Trevians came out “exactly how we needed to” and went back and forth with Bent. New Trier had a 16-15 advantage anchored by Fiegen’s nine points.
Benet’s run that followed was spearheaded by perimeter shooting. The Redwings were 6 of 9 from the three-point line in the first half, and Benet reserve Sam Driscoll — who entered for injured standout Brady Kunka — hit three of them.
The Redwings built a 12-point advantage, 35-23, by halftime.
“They started hitting threes,” Fricke said. “They were marking shots and we weren’t making shots at that time. When that happens, they went on a run. But these guys felt like we weren’t out of the game at all.”
New Trier overcame a nine-point halftime deficit in the sectional final against Glenbrook North, as well as multiple late deficits in the sectional semifinal against Glenbrook South.
Senior guard Evan Kanellos said the Trevians felt they could get back in the game.
“In the sectional, we were down in both games and we showed a lot of character to get back in those games,” he said. “We just talked about how it was possible to get back in this game. We gave it everything, just a few plays here or there that went their way.”
The Trevians nipped into the Redwings’ lead in the third but could not hit 3-point shots down the stretch to close the gap.
New Trier finished 3 of 14 from beyond the arc, while Benet hit 8 of 15 threes.
With New Trier playing catchup, Benet turned the Trevs’ over five times in the final quarter to cinch the victory.
Benet’s stars shined, as Brayden Fagbemi and Niko Abusara scored 18 points apiece. Fagbemi added 5 assists and 5 rebounds and hit the three to end the third quarter. Abusara added a team-high 9 rebounds as well as 8 steals and 4 assists.
Trevians senior Jake Fiegen led all scorers with 26 points on 10 of 15 shooting and added 9 rebounds. Fricke said Fiegen — a three-time All-Conference player and Cornell recruit — also broke the program’s all-time scoring record in the game.
New Trier will play in the third-place game on Friday evening, March 10, against either Moline or Downers Grove North.
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