Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for Lincoln Park in their second round matchup of the Public League playoffs.
From turnovers, to poor free throw shooting, and even book errors, the upstart Lions were never able to get anything going against a suffocating Kenwood defense and were soundly beaten by the Broncos 57-42 before the game was called with 12 seconds remaining.
Kenwood came right out of the gates with a 7-0 run, which in turn neutralized Lincoln Park’s home court advantage that has given the likes of Whitney Young and Uplift problems this season.
“It’s a tough environment to play in, it’s a small gym and really tight,” aid Kenwood head coach Marlo Finner. “So we knew we had to hit them in the mouth right away.”
Already down early, Lincoln Park tried to force the issue to quickly get back in the contest, but that plan backfired rather quickly as the Lions forced up extremely difficult shots and continued to turn the ball over at an alarming rate.
“We’ve actually been struggling this year with the intangibles of the game,” said Finner. “We worked really hard today and in practice all week. We were able to force number zero [Terrence Shannon] right, and had guys on the help line waiting for him so it was really a great team effort.”
Things wouldn’t get any easier for the Lions as they were issued a technical foul for making a mistake in the official book and would go into halftime trailing Kenwood 28-17.
While Lincoln Park was forcing up shots that even NBA players would have thought twice about, Kenwood’s duo of Nas Turner and RJ McGee were letting the game come to them.
The two seniors experience showed as McGee finished with a game high 16 points and eight rebounds with Turner adding 15 points of his own.
“Being a senior, and being in the playoffs before definitely helped,” said McGee. “Being at Lincoln Park was kind of different because it is on the Northside and it was extremely loud but I loved the atmosphere and I felt like I thrived on it.”
Turner added: “I thought about a about the Northside vs. Southside battle a little bit, I have a few friends up here, but overall it’s still a game, it doesn’t matter whose in front of me, I just did what I had to do.”
Lincoln Park made things somewhat interesting late in the game as they went on a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter, but poor free throw shooting (5/15) and more late turnovers kept the Lions at a double digit deficit.
With the game well in hand for Kenwood, a frustrated and emotional Lincoln Park attempted to rile up the Kenwood players in the closing minutes.
Though no punches were thrown, unfortunately the situation escalated to the point where the referee called the game with 12 seconds remaining and sent both teams to their respective locker rooms without shaking hands.
As rough as a season it has been for Kenwood, the Broncos are playing their best basketball as of late, and the run through the Public League playoffs has given them a boost of confidence that they can not only take into the next round, but into the state tournament as well.
Finner said: “This was a feel good win for us. We’ve been struggling this year but we just beat a good Lincoln Park team who beat Whitney Young this year pretty convincingly.”
“This is the best time to start clicking,” added Turner. “It’s been a little rough this year, but now we’re finally clicking on every level and we’re ready. We’re finally fully healthy and battle tested.”
Kenwood will be on the road for a second straight game as they travel to Curie to take on the second ranked Condors on Tuesday.