JJ Taylor

Kenwood sophomore sensation JJ Taylor goes up for a dunk in his team's 72-56 loss to Curie on Thursday, March 5, at Kenwood.

In the Hyde Park Herald Game of The Week, the 17th ranked Kenwood Broncos suffered a 72-56 loss to No. 7 Curie in a Public League Red South-Central conference match-up held at Kenwood Gymnasium.

The Broncos suffered their first loss on Thursday night after going 5-0 to open the 2021 season. Sophomore sensation JJ Taylor was held to only 14 points, finishing 23 below his season average of 37 points per game.

"We know he is a good player," said Mike Oliver, head coach of Curie High School, about adjusting to Taylor's play. "We have the same kind of length he has. So we put some guys on him around his height (around 6'8"). We had some 6'5" and 6'6" guys to bother him a little bit and try to knock him off his spot. Our guys play against him all the time, so it wasn't like it was strange or something."

The Condors threw different defensive coverages at Taylor throughout the game, hitting him often with double and triple teams. The sophomore was held to only five points in the first half. 

But Taylor showcased his versatility, making adjustments over the Condors defense and finding fellow sophomore teammate Darrin Ames open on the floor. Ames would take advantage of the Taylor double teams by knocking down open shots. Ames exploded for 13 of his game-high 19 points in the first half.   

Ames scored his 19 points in a combination of ways: he broke down his man off the dribble on defense and drained two clutch three-pointers in the early half.

Ames 13 first half points helped the Broncos build a 29-28 halftime lead.

In the second half, the Condors were led by the hot shooting of guard Cassius Brooks. Brooks scored a team-high 18 points in the victory.  Most of Brooks' points came on putbacks and layups.

"That's about our team being young," said Mike Irvin, head coach of the Kenwood Broncos, about surrendering the halftime lead. "We know our best player is a sophomore. A few of us got into foul trouble and Curie went on a run in the second half and we didn't respond. 

"Curie's ranked 7th for a reason," Irvin said. "Their team has been together throughout this pandemic. We got off to a late start this off-season and I'm still trying to figure out the players on our roster."
"You know, young teams get stronger as they grow," he continued. "So right now we just gotta keep trying and hopefully we learn from our mistakes so that we can get better (in the long run)."

The Broncos were outscored 44 to 27 in the second half to close out the game.

Final Score: Curie 72, Kenwood 56

With the loss, the Broncos are now 1-1 in conference play.

Hyde Park Herald Players of The Game:

Darrin Ames, Kenwood, finished with a game-high 19 points.

Cassius Brooks, Curie, finished with a team high 18 points for the Condors.

Sophomore sensation JJ Taylor of Kenwood finished with 14 points.

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