Winnetka, Sports

Book It: Trevians are headed back to state

First time in program history New Trier qualifies for state finals in consecutive seasons

A return trip to the state championships seemed unlikely for New Trier boys basketball following an early-February stretch of three losses in four games.

But in coach Scott Fricke’s mind, that rough stretch is exactly why they hoisted a supersectional trophy Monday night.

“We had such a great season and hit a little spurt where we had some adversity,” he said. “When you play 31 games, you’re not going to be smooth the whole time, and I think the adversity really brought us together. It focused us in practice. We were practicing harder, practicing smarter. We had better enthusiasm. These guys don’t want to lose.

“I think going through that allowed us to get back on pace to make this little run we’re on right now.”

Off that adversity, New Trier (29-7) has won seven straight games, including a 61-41 dismantling of Glenbard North Monday, March 4, in the Hoffman Estates Super-Sectional at NOW Arena.

With the win, the Trevians will make their second straight IHSA Class 4A final four appearance, a first for the program. They will be joined in Champaign by fellow 4A teams Homewood-Flossmoor, Normal Community and Palatine and will square off with the H-F Vikings (31-4) on Friday, March 8, at 3:45 p.m.

Senior Logan Feller (22) blocks a Panthers’ three-point attempt for the Trevians.

Last season, New Trier lost then won at the state finals to earn a third-place trophy. From that team, they graduated three starters, including All-Stater Jake Fiegen. To put together another state-contending campaign, Fricke said he needed leadership and production from his top three returners (Logan Feller, Ian Brown and Colby Smith), as well as quick growth from his younger players.

Enter Chris Kirkpatrick.

The sophomore hit the buzzer-beater in the sectional final on Friday to keep the Trevians dancing and, on Monday, poured in 22 points and added 3 steals to lead New Trier once again to victory.

Kirkpatrick scored 10 points in the first quarter, including two three-pointers, as his team raced out to a 21-7 lead and never looked back.

That’s not to say the Panthers, who advanced to the supersectional following back-to-back buzzer-beaters in sectional play, didn’t make a run.

Glenbard North’s second-quarter burst kept it in the game and then an early third-quarter run trimmed the Trevians lead to three, 34-31.

“We were expecting them to make a run, but we didn’t bat an eye,” Fricke said. “We just kept attacking. They cut it to three and we got a layup the next possession. The key was we started getting stops.”

The Trevs Chris Kirkpatrick winds up for a no-look pass to Will Leemaster.

From there, New Trier exploded, outscoring the Panthers 22-6 the rest of the quarter to essentially put the game away before the fourth quarter.

Senior Will Leemaster led the way in the third with 7 points, all in the paint and including a three-point play. Ian Brown chipped in two treys for six of his 11 points. Senior reserve Eli Garber also made his second three of the evening during the stretch.

Leemaster finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds for the Trevs.

“I attacked the glass,” he said. “A lot of my points were off putbacks. If I’m not getting the ball, I got to go get the ball somehow.”

Leemaster was a reserve last season and spent much of the time waiting for his chance.

The co-captain said knew going into this year the team could pull it off.

“We got three guys — Logan, Colby and Ian — who are so experienced and someone like (Kirkpatrick) who is so talented. I knew we had the pieces to do it,” he said. “We knew it was going to be a tough road, but we just got out of it.”

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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