Fenton High School Upstate Eight
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John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.comFenton’s Bartlett’s in a boys basketball game in Bensenville on Thursday, January 19, 2023.
Boys basketball: Fenton digs deep for comeback Upstate Eight win over Bartlett
Updated Jan 19, 2023 10:28 PM
So what if you’re down 15 points in the first half?Was it a problem for the Fenton boys basketball team Thursday night?Nah. The Bison just dug a little deeper, especially in the fourth quarter of its 68-63 Upstate Eight win over visiting Bartlett.Senior Nicholas Tinajero and junior Alejandro Diaz played Batman and Robin to the tune of 12 and 8 points in the fourth to reverse a 50-44 deficit at the end of three quarters.“It has to start on the defensive end,” said Diaz, who led Fenton with 24 points, all in the final three quarters. “We turned quick steals into buckets and just went from there. Everything started clicking on offense.”And how, said Tinajero, who finished with 18 to vault the Bison to an 18-4 record, 10-1 in the Upstate Eight.“We all started hitting our shots, man,” he said. “We kept moving the ball, getting their defense to shift, get them out of position. We were getting open shots and we were knocking them down. The energy was better.”The Hawks, who hit a grand total of 13 three-pointers this night, the antidote to a swarming Fenton zone defense, jumped out to a 30-15 lead midway through the second quarter. Looking good, right?Wrong. Fenton’s theme this season has been to play hard and keep games close before sealing the deal late, and that’s what they did in the fourth quarter, starting with a 12-3 run, powered by back-to-back 3s from Tinajero and senior guard Caleb Lewis. A basket and one for Tinajero, and suddenly the Bison were up 55-53.They never looked back. An 8-1 run and a hatful of free throws put the game away, and staved off a pair of 3s from Bartlett junior Kelton McEwen and senior Ethan Hedeen that actually cut the lead to 66-63 with 39.4 seconds to play.“Just keep attacking and attacking and eventually is going to open up,” Fenton coach Chaz Taft said of the fourth-quarter formula. “We just keep fighting.”It was a tough loss for Bartlett, which fell to 14-7 and 7-4. McEwen had the lion’s share of those 13 3-pointers, nailing 6, including a pair in a key 8-0 run to end the first quarter.“They had a much better second half,” Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said of Fenton. “They played hard. They knocked down shots. Our defense got robbed. We’ve got to do a better job of playing through that, making decisions. I think we turned over the ball too much in the second half.”Like McEwen, junior Nathan Scearce was back after an injury, and scored 10 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. Hedeen and senior Shush Mangrola each added nine.