The winningest high school basketball programs of the decade: No. 26 FenwickJoe Henricksenon January 8, 2021 at 4:37 pm

Fenwick’s Jacob Keller (1) and Mike Smith (21) talk during a free throw.
Fenwick’s Jacob Keller (1) and Mike Smith (21) talk during a free throw. | Sun-Times file photo

The Sun-Times is counting down the 50 high school basketball programs with the most wins during the decade.

When high school basketball fans think back to the 1980s, programs like Quincy, Providence St. Mel, East St. Louis Lincoln and the arrival of city powers King and Simeon are easy to think back on.

The 1990s brought us memorable basketball giants in Peoria Manual and Thornton, a few steamrolling Proviso East teams and the continued dominance of King.

The first 10 years of the 2000s included Glenbrook North, Peoria High and the beginning of a Simeon juggernaut.

Now, with the calendar inching closer to wrapping up an unforgettable 2020, the end of this month closes out another decade. And it’s another high school basketball time period to look back on.

Earlier this year we broke down the decade’s best teams and best players. Now, with every season of the past decade complete, it’s time to look at the Chicago area programs who won the most.

This list is comprised of the 50 winningest programs over the past 10 years, starting with the 2010-11 season and concluding with the 2019-20 season. Every team in every class throughout the Chicago area will be broken down in a variety of ways. But total wins, with winning percentage used as tie-breaker, determined the rankings.

We present No. 26 Fenwick today and will add one program a day going forward.

26. FENWICK: 209-88

Decade’s biggest storyline: The two-year run from 2016-17 to 2017-18 was off-the-charts good. There were a combined 58 wins, including a school record 30 wins in 2016-17. This surpassed even the Corey Maggette-led days of the late 1990s.

What made the moment in 2016-17 was a program best state tournament run that concluded with an overtime loss to Morgan Park in the Class 3A state championship game.

Underrated highlight: From the end of the 2014-15 season to the beginning of the 2018-19 season the Friars won 40 consecutive Chicago Catholic League games, including the regular season league slate and postseason tournaments.

Player of the Decade: Bryce Hopkins (2021)

Fenwick’s Bryce Hopkins (23) shoots a free throw during the game against Westinghouse.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times
Fenwick’s Bryce Hopkins (23) shoots a free throw during the game against Westinghouse.

All-Decade Team: Scottie Lindsey (2014), Mike Smith (2016), Jacob Keller (2017), Jamal Nixon (2017) and Bryce Hopkins (2021)

Other decade highlights:

-The Fenwick program made big news with the hiring of Rick Malnati as coach in 2013. Malnati, who was highly-successful at New Trier and considered one of the finest coaches in the state, elevated the program to new heights. Malnati went 122-33 in his five years leading the Friars.

-Rick Malnati’s assistant, Staunton Peck, took over the program in 2018.

-Four different players in the program –– Mike Smith, Jamal Nixon, DJ Steward and Bryce Hopkins –– were Chicago Catholic League Lawless Award winners.

-Prior to this unprecedented season, Hopkins was on pace to break superstar Corey Maggette’s all-time scoring record at Fenwick.

-Fenwick won three straight Catholic League titles (2016, 2017 and 2018) and five regional championships in the decade.

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