SPORTS | February 14, 2022
By Michael Wojtychiw
There’s an old adage that it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season.
Kenwood tried to make sure that was true when it faced off against Lane Tech in the girls basketball sophomore city championship.
Lane had won against the Broncos twice in the regular season, including the season opener, so it was only fitting that two teams that started the season against each other would end it the same way.
However, this time the result was different, as the Broncos won 50-44 at Credit Union 1 Arena.
“The difference today was want,” Kenwood coach Anquinette Holley said. “Who wanted it more? Who was going to fight for it more? Who was going to put everything they had and not hold back? That’s what it came down to.”
The Broncos’ size advantage was key to their win, as they outrebounded Lane 51-34, with Milaan Moore and Nyima Riley grabbing 14 and 13 boards apiece. The game started out slow but became a track meet by the second half, with both teams forcing turnovers at opportune times.
Even though the Broncos’ led to several Lane comebacks, they continued to build their lead in the third and fourth periods.
“We knew they were going to come back because they’re a good team,” Kenwood’s Yahri Smith said. “But at the end of the day, we wanted to be city champs, so we had to do what we had to do to put the ball in the basket more.”
After only playing a handful of games last year because of COVID-19, winning the city title for the first time was something that the entire Kenwood program was excited about.
“They became a team. They became cohesive. They believed that if you play as a team, they will be successful,” Holley said. “I say this with the utmost respect for my players. We’re not the most physically skilled team, but with as hard as they work, I will put them up against any team in the city that anyone thinks is more talented than my team. We’ll outwork anyone.”
Kenwood’s sophomore boys team was trying to do what its girls team had done just minutes earlier: win its first city championship. Not only were they able to reach their goal, but they also won by the exact same score: 50-44.
“It’s a great feeling, especially since I’m a freshman because now I can win it two years in a row,” Kenwood freshman Damajay Richardson said. “I really wanted to win it for the sophomores though, especially since they didn’t get much of a season last year.”
The Broncos’ defense stood tall, mainly holding their opponent, Simeon, without a field goal for minutes at a time. However, even with the scoring drought in the second quarter, the Wolverines went on a 10-0 run to end the quarter, heading into the halftime period up 26-24.
“The resiliency of our kids, our sophomores especially, has been really huge,” Simeon coach William Buford said. “They were in a zone and one of our main scorers (Rashad McKinnie) hurt his hand and he was someone who would have been doing much of the scoring in the middle.”
After a back-and-forth third quarter that saw each team take the lead three different times, the Broncos took the lead on a three-pointer by Rob Walls Jr., giving the Broncos the lead for good with about a minute remaining.
“We just had to focus on getting them out of the paint and working together to get down low and grab those rebounds,” Walls Jr. said.
Alston really liked what he saw from his team not only on Saturday, but from the first day of practice back in November.
“We have a good group of kids and one of the biggest things I try to teach them at this level is how to play together,” he said. “One day it could be one guy, the next another. But if we play together, we can always come out on top.”