Kenwood, which was ranked No. 9 in the preseason, has bounced back nicely from a rough start at the Marist tournament.
Saturday at Crete-Monee, the Broncos (6-2) bounced Thea Bowman (Ind.) 80-28 behind 5-3 sophomore Alyssa Moore (16 points), 5-9 freshman Taylor Brown (15 points) and 5-3 senior Alanna Slaughter (15 points).
“We played fast in the first half, which is what we like to do,” Kenwood coach Andre Lewis said. “We did a good job denying the middle. The girls are starting to get our defensive concepts better. That’s what I like, and our offensive rebounding got better.
“I’m on them all the time about defending and rebounding, and especially about offensive rebounding. If you can get second and third opportunities while limiting other teams to only one shot, you have a good chance of winning ballgames.”
There was a lot to like from Kenwood, which lost to Marist and Crete-Monee at the Marist tournament to tumble out of the Super 25.
“I felt Alanna Slaughter played well in terms of running the team and getting us to where we want to go and playing at our pace,” Lewis said. “Then there was 6-foot sophomore Anaya McDavid in the middle. She did a great job on the glass. Taylor Brown played well, too.
“We have a lot young players. Games like (Bowman) does give them more opportunity to play. We can teach them about how we want to play, and also train them in not playing to the level of the opponent, but playing to our level of expectations. That’s the key thing to getting better every day.”
Kenwood improved to 6-2 on Sunday by defeating Mumford (Mich.) 61-52 at the Derrick Coleman Classic in Michigan.
North Lawndale has suffered only one blemish on its record through its first six games this season. Saturday, the Phoenix broke open a close game with a 33-4 run over an eight-minute span of the second and third quarters to defeat Hillcrest.
The difference between North Lanwndale’s five wins and its one loss?
“We just showed up physically when we played Trinity,” North Lawndale coach Corey Morgan said. “Mentally, we weren’t there. From the jumpball, we were never mentally in the game. We looked lethargic the entire evening.
“Trinity’s a real good team. I coached a lot of the girls from Trinity in AAU, so I have a lot of respect for Eddie (Stritzel). He’s like a mentor to me. We did beat some quality teams there like Oswego with its three Division I kids and Proviso East.
“I feel OK about where we are, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
After spending last season in Class 4A, the Phoenix are back in 3A this winter where they will join the likes of Montini and Marshall. The Phoenix will play Montini in the City-Suburban Showdown at Chicago State on January 24.
Hillcrest’s Rex Martin is getting a rough initiation to coaching girls basketball, while his players are learning that no one is going to let you rest on your laurels.
The Hawks slipped to 2-4 after losses to Richards and North Lawndale last week.
“We lost to Richards in a very close game,” he said. “They beat us with two free throws with three-tenths of a second to go. We should have won the game. We missed free throws on our end and gave them opportunity.
“We shoot a ton of free throws in practice, and then we go into games and we’re under 50 percent.”
Martin, who inherited a blend of young and old including veterans such as Tanzania Sherrill and Aliah Acker when he succeeded John Maniatis, does not believe his team lacks confidence.
“I don’t think they’re lacking for confidence, but when you’ve had success sometimes you think it’s just going to continue,” he said. “That’s true in any walk of life. We just have to keep working on fundamentals and that’s what we preach every day in practice.
“We have two conference games this week. Hopefully, we’ll be ready for Reavis on Tuesday.”
Whitney Young will host the annual Chi-Town Showdown this weekend.
Champaign Central plays Harvest Christian Academy at 5 p.m. on Friday, followed Proviso East and Bogan at 6:30 p.m. and the host Dolphins against Charter School of the Dunes at 8 p.m.
Saturday’s schedule features Gary Roosevelt vs. Morgan Park and South Shore vs. Phillips at 12 p.m., Mother McAuley vs. Kenwood and Simeon vs. Westinghouse at 1:30 p.m., Bolingbrook vs. Trinity at 3 p.m., and Joliet Catholic vs. Fremd and C. Miller vs. Harlan at 4:30 p.m.
Young plays Crete-Monee and North Lawndale takes on Charter School of the Dunes at 6 p.m., and Montini meets Bloom at 7:30 p.m.