Sam Lewis, Justin Mullins spark Oak Park to rivalry win against Fenwick
Oak Park wasn’t playing for a state championship Friday, but you never would have known it based on the Huskies’ intensity from start to finish and the postgame celebration after beating Fenwick 66-52 at Credit Union 1 Arena.
Oak Park wasn’t playing for a state championship on Friday, but you never would have known it based on the Huskies’ intensity from start to finish and the postgame celebration after beating Fenwick 66-52 at Credit Union 1 Arena.
The Chicago Elite Classic is one of the season’s most high-profile events and Oak Park had been taking it on the chin from their crosstown neighbors for years. So there was a lot of emotion to let out after Justin Mullins grabbed a steal and soared for a dunk in the third quarter.
“Once I got that dunk the energy just changed,” Mullins said. “The whole team got hyped and I felt like the flow of the game changed.”
It was a key moment, as the Friars (0-3) had just tied the game after consecutive buckets from freshman Damion Porter Jr.
Sam Lewis, the Huskies’ other star guard, followed up with two very similar front court steals and breakaway dunks. By the time the dust settled and the third quarter was over Oak Park led 46-36.
“Once we got those steals and dunks the crowd went crazy, we were rolling and [Fenwick] started backpedaling,” Lewis said.
A new era is starting at both schools. Fenwick graduated Bryce Hopkins and coach Staunton Peck stepped down after last season. Phil Gary took over the Oak Park program last season, but the team only played a handful of games due to the pandemic.
So this was a statement moment for the Huskies.
“The past ten years [Fenwick] had won like nine out of ten times,” Mullins said. “This is a big win with a new coach and new culture here and everything.”
Lewis, a junior, finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds for Oak Park (3-2). Mullins, a Denver recruit, had 20 points and 12 rebounds.
The Huskies committed 24 turnovers but out-rebounded Fenwick 44-32.
“We showed a little growth. The past couple games when the other team made a run we looked a little shell-shocked. But today we were calm. So I love our composure right now.”
“This meant a lot,” Gary said. “Oak Park had been losing in this rivalry for a long time. It’s a fresh start now. It’s big for the town. The kids were just super pumped. Once they settled in we were fine”
Denium Juette led the Friards with 20 points and eight rebounds and Gabe Madej added nine points.