Bison rain of 3 pointers gets notice; Benbow, Minard named all-tournament at Chicago Collins.

By Mike Miazga


The Fenton girls basketball team’s improvement this season under first-year coach Dave Mello now has been felt on a national level.

The Bison’s proclivity for the 3-point shot has put them in the pages of the National Federation of High Schools record book.

Fenton recently took 73 three-point shots in a win against Westmont, which ranks third all-time for a single game according to NFHS. The Bison also took 67 threes in a game against Chicago Solario, which gives them the fourth most in national girls high-school basketball history.

Through the end of 2017, Fenton was 6-9 overall and 2-4 in Metro Suburban Conference Blue Division play.

In recent action, Fenton downed IC Catholic Prep 74-56 in a MSC Blue game. The Bison also beat the aforementioned Westmont 77-73, lost to Glenbard South 71-32 (in MSC Blue play) and then downed Chicago Solario 53-45, lost to Chicago Westinghouse 71-69 in overtime and defeated Chicago Roosevelt 77-20 at the Collins Academy tournament.

At the Collins, Fenton’s Amari Benbow and Jamie Minard were named to the all-tournament team.

Mello was pleased with how his team played in the Chicago Westinghouse loss. “We rallied from down 18-2 and 24-6 to take the lead late and then came up just short in overtime,” he pointed out.

Overall, Mello said the team has excelled in executing the game plan on a nightly basis. “We have really been running our system well,” he said. “When I watch the games on film, it is easy to see that the girls have really gained an understanding of what we want them doing.”

Mello noted Fenton has ramped things up particularly on the offensive end. “The offense really has been clicking,” he said. “During the past six games (through late last week) we are averaging just under 64 points a game. Last season, the girls averaged 32 points a game. Other than the game against Glenbard South, our system has been really effective.”

Mello would like to see further advancements defensively. “We always can be better on defense,” he said. “However, we were able to force Solario into 46 turnovers, which turned out to be huge in an eight-point game.”

Fenton also has been hard at work on its free-throw shooting. “We really need to improve our free-throw shooting,” said Mello. “For some reason, the free-throw line has been a big struggle for us.”

Mello cited additional strong recent play from Jezalyn Tapia and Teagan Hausen. “Jezalyn has really stepped up at the wing position,” he said. “She is looking for her shot a lot more and her defense has really helped force a lot of turnovers. Teagan, our tallest girl, has started to take advantage of her height and get us rebounds on offense and she also causes lots of trouble at the top of our defense.”

Overall, Mello is thrilled with the team’s play heading into the start of 2018. “When considering the circumstances of the whole situation (Mello being hired during the start of the school year), I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” he said. “They have surpassed the win total from the last two seasons combined, have won two conference games after a 36-game conference losing streak, have conducted themselves as a first-class team and are fully responsible for laying the foundation of the culture we want with this program. We also presented them with a system that none of them have ever even heard of, let alone played, and they have fully embraced it and are having a lot of fun and success running.”

Fenton played Walther Christian earlier this week and will face a busy stretch next week with games at Illiana Christian and Aurora Central Catholic sandwiched between a non-conference game against Plainfield Central. Fenton also has one game remaining against Chicago Collins in the Collins Academy tournament.


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