HIgh school basketball: Kenwood overpowers Joliet West at the Chicago Elite Classic

Two of the state’s best seniors and best teams clashed in the finale of the Chicago Elite Classic on Saturday at Credit Union One Arena. 

The matchup was so good that for the first time it wasn’t Young or Simeon (the event organizers) in the final game. Kansas State recruit Dai Dai Ames and No. 3 Kenwood faced Michigan State recruit Jeremy Fears Jr. and No. 2 Joliet West.

Early in the second half sophomore Jeremiah Fears made a three-pointer that put the Tigers up by 11. Joliet West led for the majority of the first half and the large crowd began to wonder if the suburban team was going to take down the city powerhouse. 

Then foul trouble hit Ames and Fears. Both teams played long stretches of the third quarter without their star guards.

Fears’ absence was too much for the Tigers to overcome. Kenwood’s deep and talented roster had multiple answers and the Broncos took control with a devastating run, holding Joliet West without a bucket for three minutes on the way to a 72-66 victory. 

“They need to understand that I’m a genius at this,” Broncos coach Mike Irvin said. “I’ve been putting teams together all my life. They thought because [Nick Irvin] left another Irvin wasn’t going to come in and get it done. We can compete with anyone and we are ready to win the city and state championship.”

Tyler Smith ignited the 14-0 third-quarter run with a three-pointer. He finished with 17 points. Junior Calvin Robins scored 21 in the game and 13 in the fourth quarter to help hold off any comeback from Joliet West. 

Ames finished with 12 points for Kenwood (4-0).

“I’ve been putting up 30 and 40 points all my life,” Ames said. “My goal today was to win a basketball game and that’s what I did.”

Jeremiah Fears led Joliet West (5-2) with 17 points and Jeremy Fears finished with 16. Junior Justus McNair added 15 points and Matthew Moore had 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.

“They talked a lot and we talked back,” McNair said. “It was a good matchup in a fun environment.”

Jeremy Fears and Ames picked up a technical foul for talking to each other in the first half. It’s been a regular issue for Fears, who fouled out after picking up a technical foul in Joliet West’s season-opening win against St. Louis Cardinal Ritter. 

“I just have to keep playing,” Fears said. “Stuff happens in basketball. I have to focus on the main goal, winning.”

Fears played at Joliet West as a freshman and then transferred to La Lumiere in Indiana when the basketball season was delayed due to COVID. He returned this fall. 

“[Ames] is the best player in the state,” Irvin said. “We don’t let anybody come from out of town, from these prep schools and all of a sudden they are at the top and better than everybody. Ball is Life and all these media people following [Joliet] around. Follow us around.”

Both teams opened the season with major wins. Joliet West knocked off Cardinal Ritter, St. Rita and Metamora. Kenwood took down Young on the first day of the season. 

“As a competitor you don’t like to lose but the goal is to be prepared for March so we can withstand this kind of environment against a competitive team that’s been much further than we have as a program,” Tigers coach Jeremy Kreiger said. 

Kenwood has now beaten two of the state’s best Class 4A teams. The Broncos aren’t even at full strength, star junior Chris Riddle is out with an injury and is expected back relatively soon. 

“I thought it was disrespect that we started out the season ranked three in the Chicago Sun-Times and we knocked off a powerhouse in Young and we are still three,” Irvin said. “They aren’t respecting what we do.”

Watch the final minute of Kenwood vs. Joliet West:

Source : https://chicago.suntimes.com/2022/12/4/23492243/kenwood-joliet-west-chicago-elite-classic-high-school-basketball

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