Fenwick will play for its first boys basketball state championship after the Friars beat Bloomington, 67-52, on Friday in the first Class 3A IHSA state semifinal in Peoria.
Taking a 30-23 lead into halftime, Fenwick (30-4) held off a Bloomington run in the third quarter as they re-gained control and pushed the lead back into double-digits in the fourth quarter.
Freshman D.J. Steward continued his postseason ascension into stardom as he finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists to pace Fenwick. Steward was 10-for-21 from the field on Friday afternoon. Senior Jamal Nixon also had a strong game for Fenwick as he finished with 18 points and nine rebounds while senior Jacob Keller had eight points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
Bloomington (26-5) was led by sophomore Chris Payton as he led the Purple Raiders with 21 points and nine rebounds. Patrick Fisher also had 10 points for Bloomington.
Fenwick has now won 17 consecutive games as they are in their first downstate appearance since 1998.
The Friars have not lost to a Class 3A team all season as they advance to Saturday's Class 3A state championship game against Morgan Park. That Class 3A state championship game can be viewed live on CSN at approximately 12:45 p.m. as it will follow the Class 3A third-place game.
2016-17 record: 30-4, 8-2 Public League Red-South
Postseason results: Lost to Whitney Young in Class 4A Title Game
Players to watch: Senior Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State) is one of the area's premier two-way players. Senior forward Messiah Jones (Drake) is an elite leaper and rebounder. Talented junior guard KeJuan Clements is also back. The Wolverines also added some intriguing transfers in Xavier Pinson (St. Pat's) and Northwest Indiana native Zion Young. Both Pinson and Young have Division I interest and add even more perimeter firepower.
Why they're in the power rankings: On paper, you could argue that Simeon is the most talented team in the state this season. The Wolverines have proven veterans who have won city titles and Division I transfers at multiple positions. But how will all of the pieces fit together? This is a fascinating group with a high ceiling.
Did you know? Making it back to Peoria last season, Simeon has now made 13 state finals appearances.
2016-17 record: 23-5, 8-2 Public League Red-West
Postseason results: Won Class 2A State Championship.
Players to watch: Seniors Dannie Smith and Raekwon Drake are both major All-Area threats after strong junior seasons. Another senior, Ty Mosley, might actually be the best long-term college prospect of the group as he's pledged to Milwaukee for next season. Sharpshooter Brian Hernandez is another seasoned veteran who has a knack for making big plays.
Why they're in the power rankings: The Spartans return most of last season's Class 2A title team and they also added some key transfers in former Marian Catholic point guard Chase Adams and former Clark wing Demarius Splunge. While the Spartans should be the heavy favorites to repeat in Class 2A, they haven't made as much noise in the Public League Playoffs, which is why they're still behind some of the other schools in the preseason Power Rankings.
Did you know? Orr was absolutely dominant during its Class 2A title run last March as the Spartans won by an average of 21 points. Only one team, Uplift, even played Orr to within single digits and that was still a nine-point margin of victory.