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Kenwood holds off Curie’s late charge to pick up key Red-South/Central road win

Kenwood coach Mike Irvin promised showtime basketball this season, and his talented young team has delivered plenty of it. But that isn’t always possible in the rugged Red-South/Central, especially on the road.

Kenwood’s Darrin Ames (4) drives and looks to pass as Curie’s Chikasi Ofoma (23) defends.
Kenwood’s Darrin Ames (4) drives and looks to pass as Curie’s Chikasi Ofoma (23) defends.
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Kenwood coach Mike Irvin promised showtime basketball this season, and his talented young team has delivered plenty of it. But that isn’t always possible in the rugged Red-South/Central, especially on the road.

The Broncos didn’t have any showtime moments Thursday at Curie, but they gutted out a 65-61 victory.

Kenwood junior guard Darrin “Dai Dai” Ames has all the flash in his game. He drains long three-pointers, throws highlight-reel passes and slithers to the basket for buckets at will. But he also makes his free throws. That’s an increasingly rare skill among high school stars these days, and it’s what won the game for the Broncos.

“I’m very comfortable on the line,” Ames said. “I shoot 200 free throws after practice every day, so it’s really just a motion to me.”

That’s exactly how it looks. Ames’ left-handed free-throw stroke is smooth and dependable. He made two free throws with two seconds left to seal the win. Ames was 10-for-10 from the free-throw line and finished with 19 points.

Curie senior Phoenix Bullock thrilled the home crowd when he nailed a game-tying three with 25 seconds to play. But Ames attacked immediately, getting to the basket for a score to put Kenwood ahead for good.

Condors coach Mike Oliver said that’s another sign of how young his team is.

“We let the best player on their team drive and get a layup,” Oliver said. “That’s just not being disciplined. We knew that’s what he was going to try to do. We don’t have a leader at the key moments.”

Curie trailed by 14 late in the third quarter. Sophomore Carlos Harris gave the Condors a spark in the quarter, scoring 10 of his 18 points to get his team back into the game.

“They like to rip and run, so we wanted to play a halfcourt game,” Oliver said. “But in the third quarter, we turned it over eight times in a stretch of 11 possessions. A good team like they are will make you pay for that.”

Junior Jeremy Harrington had 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Condors (16-2, 4-1 Red-South/Central), and Bullock finished with 14 points. Chikasi Ofoma added seven points and seven rebounds.

“This is a tough place to get a win, so this is a good one,” Irvin said. “We were up the whole game, then they made a run, and my young guys responded well.”

Rebounding has been Kenwood’s weakness during Public League play. Simeon dominated the boards against the Broncos on Tuesday, and Curie outrebounded them 37-28.

Davius Loury, a 6-7 junior, stepped up on the glass in the second half. He finished with 12 points and eight rebounds for Kenwood (13-4, 4-1). Senior guard Darius Robinson added 13 points for the Broncos.

Kenwood senior Trey Pettigrew, a Nevada recruit, was in foul trouble throughout and didn’t score. Bryce Heard stepped up to help fill the void.

Heard, one of the state’s elite freshmen, had 14 points.

“I’ve been learning a lot from the older guys, and when my time comes, it is gonna come,” Heard said.

Irvin said he had a long talk with Heard after the loss to Simeon.

“Heard stepped up big,” Irvin said. “He got a taste of it [Tuesday against Simeon], and today he was ready to play. The bench gave us great minutes.’’

Watch the final minute of Kenwood at Curie: