In a neighborhood rivalry game with an intensity that felt closer to a March matchup, King strolled into Kenwood eager to show its fast start was not a fluke.
Against the piercingly loud backdrop, Jesse Young silenced the home crowd.
The 6-4 King junior scored on a three-point play with the game tied at 48-48 and 2:01 remaining in the fourth period. The play sparked a strong King finish that led to a 54-49 victory over the Broncos on Thursday.
Sophomore King forward Zion Mortan penetrated the lane and found Young underneath on the play.
“I knew there’d be contact and I just made an effort there to go up against contact and finish at the rim,” Young said.
Young scored nine of his 13 points after the first-half break.
“It was loud and intense and one of the most physical games we’ve played this year,” Young said.
The physical and intense style of play yielded big runs by both teams. King (7-2, 2-0 Red-Central) had five different players score during a 10-0 burst late in the third quarter that produced its largest lead, six points, of the game.
Kenwood (2-5, 0-2) matched the Jaguars’ run as junior guard Rahamanh Katumbusi closed out the quarter by scoring on back-to-back drives that initiated a 12-2 run.
Senior Kenwood guard Joell Davis scored 11 of his team-high 16 points in the second half. His spectacular twisting layup appeared to shift the momentum permanently in the Broncos’ favor.
“The game was just intense, and it was hard to hear out there,” junior King guard Jabari Antwin (16 points) said.
His only second-half basket was a three-pointer from the left wing for a 48-46 Jaguars’ lead. Davis forced the final tie with a wild shot from the top of the key that banked in.
Young took charge from there.
“I’m a good jumper and I’ve worked a lot on my game to finish better, especially at the rim,” Young said.
Davis’ bank shot was the final field goal for the Broncos, who managed just one point in the final 2:20.
“We really picked up our defense in the final couple of minutes,” Young said.
“The last part of the game was different than the beginning,” he said. “It was definitely harder out there, but we got after them defensively.”
Mortan contributed nine points for the Jaguars, who received scoring contributions from seven different players.
Kenwood’s rising star, 6-6 sophomore wing forward Nick Robinson, scored 14 points for the Broncos. Katumbusi added nine points.
The Broncos, however, continued to struggle with turnovers.
“We kind of lost our heads there at the end of the game,” Kenwood coach Jim Maley said. “I’m not sure what we were doing out there. We are going to continue to lose close games until we correct this problem.
“Teams that lose their head do not win these kind of games.”