By Quinn Clifford ‘21
On Friday, Feb. 26, the Brother Rice basketball team faced off against Fenwick in a highly-anticipated Chicago Catholic League (CCL) matchup. The Fenwick Friars, led by Kentucky recruit Bryce Hopkins, went on the road to play the extremely balanced Crusaders in the Brother Rice south gym at 7:00 p.m. Both teams were undefeated in the Catholic League, so this matchup set up for primetime high school basketball.
The game was back-and-forth at the start, as expected. After leading 17-15 at the end of the first quarter, Fenwick began to pull away.
The size of Bryce Hopkins and the rest of the Friars was giving the Crusaders some trouble on the defensive side of the ball. After already having seven team fouls with 4:53 left to go in the half, Brother Rice’s Coach Bobby Frasor decided to switch his team into a zone defense which eventually provided the Crusaders the stops they needed.
Key scoring from the Brother Rice backcourt coming from Cullen Cosme and Ahmad Henderson allowed the Crusaders to go on a 13-4 run to close out the last four minutes of the half.
Senior captain Cullen Cosme, said, “ We were able to slow down the pace and make them beat us in the halfcourt with the zone defense. Our defensive stops allowed us to get in a rhythm offensively and get back in the game.”
Coming out of halftime, Brother Rice trailed Fenwick by only two points. The Crusaders stayed in their zone defense, and the Friars even mixed in a zone defense of their own. The last two quarters were an absolute grudge match with the biggest lead being only five points in favor of the Crusaders. The Crusaders held this lead even after losing their senior big man, Frank Cunnea, due to an eye injury late in the third quarter. This was all a setup for a play that will go down in Brother Rice basketball history.
With 11 seconds left in the game, the Crusaders were set to inbound the ball, down by two points. Nick Harrell inbounded the ball to Luke Moustakas. Moustakas dropped it off to Cullen Cosme on the run. Cosme drove, drew three defenders and kicked out to an open Ahmad Henderson in the corner. Henderson shot…BANG!
The sophomore guard, Ahmad Henderson, beat the buzzer and made a three-pointer to put the Brother Rice Crusaders up one over the Fenwick Friars. The Brother Rice gym erupted.
Ahmad Henderson said, “I just kept telling myself to ‘make a play’ coming out of the timeout. The shot felt good off my hand.”
“Make a play” is exactly what Henderson did Friday night.
Brother Rice beat Fenwick 54-53 to remain undefeated, moving to 7-0. Fenwick star Bryce Hopkins scored 24 points but to no avail. Ahmad Henderson led the Crusaders in scoring with 15 points, and Cullen Cosme followed him up with 11 points and 4 assists.
Even though he had to leave the game due to injury, Frank Cunnea said, “Coming into the season, Fenwick was a very hyped up team, so it felt great beating them and cementing Brother Rice as a top team in the Chicagoland.”
Brother Rice basketball carried this momentum into Saturday as they went on to dominate and win the Battle of Pulaski against their neighborhood rival, Marist, by a score of 63-42. As the Crusaders move into the toughest stretch of their season, they look to build on these two great wins. Moving forward, the team wants to win a CCL title and become one of the top teams in Illinois.