For the first time in its almost 60-year school history, the Kenwood Academy boys basketball team has beaten seven-time state champion Simeon Career Academy.
"It felt good," said Broncos head coach Mike Irvin after the 46-43 win on Jan. 10. "To reach our biggest goal, we have to beat Simeon. If we want to be the best, you have to be able to beat a Simeon."
Senior guard Darrin "Dai Dai" Ames, who recorded 20 points, six rebounds and four steals against the 18-1 Simeon Wolverines, helped clinch the win with two free throws with only five seconds left in the game.
Ames and fellow senior guard Tyler Smith also displayed great defense during that match by forcing 17 turnovers. Irvin also unleashed his defensive weapons, senior center Solomon Mosley and junior guard Edwon Duling, who shut down Simeon's star twins Wes and Miles Rubin. Duling and Mosley put intense defensive pressure on the twins so they were only able to score seven points.
But the jubilation was short lived. A week after the Simeon victory, a 54-51 loss to the Hyde Park Academy Thunderbirds on Jan. 19 kicked off a short losing streak. The Broncos lost 68-54 to Camden High School from New Jersey the next day, and fell short (67-53) again to Benet Academy the day after that.
The Broncos are now 16-5 this season.
"With us, we always take a season one game at a time," he said. "This is Chicago basketball. If you're not on top of your game, it'll be a struggle … We're not taking anybody lightly."
In spite of the losses, the Kenwood Academy is still ranked No. 1 in the IHSA Class 4A level.
"We got to work hard, practice hard and stick to the game plan," Irvin said. "The kids have been great this season, they have been listening to all of the game plans and they followed it through."
"One thing my team is never going to lack is confidence. Even if we didn't have the best players, we feel like we could go into any school and be able to beat them because we're a confident team," he said.
The Broncos will face Longwood High School at home, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., Tuesday, Jan. 24. Tip off is at 5:00 p.m.