Bryce Hopkins’ teammates step up, Fenwick handles DePaul Prep

Bryce Hopkins’ teammates step up, Fenwick handles DePaul Prep

Fenwick’s Bryce Hopkins (23) grabs a rebound and steps toward the basket as the Friars host DePaul Prep. | Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Bryce Hopkins didn’t totally get a breather Friday against No. 5 DePaul Prep, but the No. 16 Friars didn’t require any special heroics to earn a 66-56 victory in Oak Park. 

Fenwick senior Bryce Hopkins has been posting monster numbers for three seasons. The Kentucky recruit isn’t one of those college prospects everyone says will be more effective at the next level. He dominates games right now.

Hopkins didn’t totally get a breather Friday against No. 5 DePaul Prep, but the No. 16 Friars didn’t require any special heroics to earn a 66-56 victory in Oak Park.

Gabe Madej scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead Fenwick (10-2, 9-1 Catholic League Blue). The 6-5 junior made four three-pointers in the first quarter to help the Friars open a 14-point halftime lead.

‘‘My teammates got me the ball where I need it, and the shots just went in,’’ Madej said.

Loyola recruit TY Johnson scored 12 consecutive points for the Rams (7-2, 6-2) in the third quarter to cut Fenwick’s lead to 44-41, but Hopkins responded immediately. He got to the basket for a foul and two free throws. Then he found junior David Gieser for an assist before closing the third quarter with a jumper. DePaul Prep didn’t threaten seriously again.

‘‘We came out good,’’ said Hopkins, who scored 16 points. ‘‘Last year they defended me the same way. They were cutting off driving lanes and helping on screens and just pressuring me a lot. So I knew I was going to trust in my teammates to make shots, and they did a great job of that, especially Gabe.’’

Gieser finished with 10 points and five rebounds, and junior Denium Juette added 16 points and six rebounds for Fenwick.

Johnson finished with 26 points and five rebounds for the Rams, but he shot 8-for-28. Rasheed Bello added 14 points and 6-10 senior Brian Mathews six points and nine rebounds for DePaul Prep.

‘‘Johnson can really shoot it, but sometimes our gym can be hard to shoot in for opposing teams,’’ Friars coach Staunton Peck said. ‘‘And we did a good job of switching and making them take difficult shots.’’

Fenwick’s gym has a very small footprint. That isn’t usually ideal, but it has been perfect for livestreams during COVID-19. Something about the small gym translates well to watching high school basketball on the internet.

So it feels as though the Friars’ season has been a little more high-profile than those of most teams. They experienced a couple of heartbreaking losses, including one on a three-quarter-court game-winner in overtime by Notre Dame senior Louis Lesmond.

Peck, however, said the team rebounded quickly from the tough loss.

‘‘With the way we played in that game, I think we got closer,’’ Peck said. ‘‘It’s the best game we’ve played since I’ve been here. We just got a little bit unlucky.’’

Hopkins would have been one of the major draws this season under normal circumstances. Fenwick was scheduled to play in several high-profile events. But, like most kids, he’s just happy to have any season at all.

‘‘It’s been great,’’ Hopkins said. ‘‘A couple of months ago, we didn’t think we would have any season. I’m grateful to put my jersey on and play with my teammates this last year.’’

Fenwick and DePaul Prep are two of the eight teams participating in the Chipotle Classic next weekend. Simeon, Young, St. Patrick, Notre Dame, Mundelein and the Central Suburban League winner (likely Evanston or Glenbrook South) are the others. The bracket will be revealed Sunday.

Watch the final minute of DePaul Prep at Fenwick:

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