The new-look Kenwood squad made its Chicago debut Monday at King. The No. 9 Broncos are far from a finished product this early in the season. New coach Marlo Finner has two transfers in the starting lineup: Zion Morgan from King and Manny Patterson from North Lawndale.
So while it may take some time for Kenwood to find its best form, King certainly sped the process up a bit by forcing the Broncos to fight for every point in front of a sold-out crowd.
“That wasn’t pretty but it was a big, big conference win,” Finner said. “We will take that anytime in an atmosphere like this.”
Kenwood pulled out a 51-48 Red-Central victory thanks to consecutive steals by Morgan and senior Jelani Sankey in the final 40 seconds. The Jaguars trailed by just four points before the turnovers. Morgan hit one of two free throws with 8 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
“We were just playing the passing lanes and found those balls,” Finner said.
Broncos junior Nick Robinson brought the gym to its feet with a soaring, monster tip dunk in the third quarter. It seemed as if the tantalizing potential Robinson has shown the past few seasons finally came together in one astounding play.
“I saw there were three people in front of me and that any one of them might get the rebound,” Robinson said. “But when it came off the rim no one made a move right away so I ran and took off. I just went up and got the ball. When you’re up that high and have the ball it’s pretty easy to finish.”
Robinson led Kenwood (5-1, 1-0 Red-Central) with 14 points and 12 boards. The majority of his baskets seemed to come at key moments for the Broncos.
“He can be a special player, he really can,” Finner said.
Kenwood has at least three Division I prospects with Robinson, Patterson (12 points, seven rebounds) and Morgan (seven points, five rebounds). But King senior Jesse Young was the best player on the floor. He scored 28 points and grabbed seven boards. He was King’s only real scoring option.
“Jesse has been our most productive player for the past four years,” King coach Culumber Ball said. “He’s gonna be a steal for a mid-major.”
Young is a qualifier. He averaged 16 points per game last season for the Jaguars (5-3, 0-1).
“[Ball] has found colleges in North Dakota and Utah that have shown some interest in me, but that’s it,” Young said. “I’d like to find somewhere closer.”
Junior Justin Davis added eight points and seven rebounds for King and Jabari Antwine added four points and eight boards.
“This game is going to give us a lot of confidence,” Young said. “That’s a ranked team and we gave them all they could handle. We just have to keep playing hard and we’re going to get a big win.”