By Michael Wojtychiw
Monday’s Class 4A Supersectional at UIC’s Credit Union1 Arena was going to be a historic one regardless of who won. Both Kenwood and Downers Grove North were looking to make their first trips downstate in program history.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, the wait will have to continue for at least another year after the Trojans shocked Kenwood 67-47, ending the Broncos’ season just one game short of a trip to Champaign for the second consecutive year. Kenwood fell to Young in the supersectional last season.
“We were a step slow today,” Kenwood coach Mike Irvin said. “It was almost like a heavyweight fight where we just didn’t have any energy. They [were] faster than us today. I didn’t think that could happen.
“The effort was there, the energy just wasn’t there.”
Down 6-2 after a Dai Dai Ames basket, Downers North went on an 18-0 run, courtesy of some hot shooting from the outside and Kenwood couldn’t recover.
The Trojans shot 43 percent from the 3-point line in the first half, hitting 6-of-14 en route to a 35-22 halftime lead. They’d finish 11-of-27 for the game, while the Broncos shot only 2-of-20 from deep.
With Ames, who Irvin said was hampered by the stomach flu, struggling offensively, fellow guard Tyler Smith tried to shoulder the load offensively.
The senior led the Broncos with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals, all either team highs or amounts tied for a team-high total.
“Tyler Smith was big,” Irvin said. “He led us in rebounds, led us in points, he gave us all he had.”
“It definitely felt like I needed to step up, especially knowing [Ames] wasn’t at full strength,” Smith said. “My mindset going into it was to play the best that I could and just give us a fighting chance. When I go out, I at least got to get involved.”
What started with an exciting win over Young in the season opener at DePaul ended with tough losses in the city championship and super-sectional games, but still did include a conference, regional and sectional title.
That couldn’t have been done without the leadership of Irvin’s four seniors: Ames, Smith, Kyle Trotter and Solomon Mosley.
“”We had a great season,” Irvin said. “We stopped short of our goal, but it was a great season. My seniors, I enjoyed coaching them. We had a lot of memories this season. It was fun.”