Marlo Finner argues basketball is a state of mind. His players have bought in and the result has been pretty thrilling to watch.
Swingman Rahamanh Katumbusi scored a game-high 24 points and collected nine rebounds and junior guad Zion Morgan added 19 points as the No. 11 Broncos throttled No. 19 Proviso East 74-55 in a Proviso West Holiday tournament quarterfinal Tuesday in Hillside.
Kenwood (9-1) advances to Friday’s semifinal against top-ranked Stevenson. Making its first tournament appearance since 1978, Kenwood last reached the semifinal in 1976.
“If you’ve been around basketball a lot, you know that the great teams and the great players have a physical and mental toughness,” Finner said. “My whole thing since I’ve been hired has been to improve the mental toughness of the team, and these kids have really responded well.”
Kenwood utilized dominant offensive rebounding and points generated off Proviso East turnovers to gradually build its six-point halftime edge into a lead that swelled to as high as 22 points.
Katumbusi scored 12 points in the first half on a series of drives and pull up jumpers. The Broncos slashed and attacked the basket, producing multiple offensive rebounds that created repeated second and third chances at the rim.
Kenwood grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in controlling the glass, 30-12 in the first half. It led to 13 second chance points in the first half. For the game, Kenwood outrebounded the Pirates 49-34.
“We played a good game out there,” Katumbusi said. “We’re just trying to buy into our coach’s system and I think it showed out there.”
Morgan hit 5-for-8 in the second half in scoring 12 of his points after the break. A year ago, Morgan scored 21 points against his close friend Katumbusi in a King victory over Kenwood. Morgan transferred and is now a central part of the team.
“I was already friends with most of these guys from summer basketball,” Morgan said. “We’re trying to play aggressive and be tough and we’re turning into a family. We’re playing like brothers, and we’re playin well.”
Proviso East senior swingman Kalin Fisher (21 points) did everything possible to help the Pirates (6-3) stay close. Katumbusi limited Fisher to 2-for-9 shooting in the second half.
“We just wanted to make him work,” Finner said. “He’s a good scorer and shooter, and we know he’s the one that makes them go offensively.”
Proviso East never led in the game. The Pirates were also hurt by poor free throw shooting (12-for-23).
“We just didn’t match their intensity,” interim Proviso East coach Cedrick McCullough said. “They killed us on the boards and the second chance points. I know they had the size advantage against us, but we didn’t box out or get a body on them.”
Wing forward Nick Robinson added 13 points and seven rebounds for the Broncos. Reserve guard Jelani Sankey contributed nine points.
Tyler Chisom added 11 points for Proviso East.