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Daily Journal
     January 30, 2020      #75-30 KDJ

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Competitive Kays conquer

Mike Frey

KANKAKEE — In order to defeat their rivals from Rich South, ranked 10th in the latest AP Class 3A Poll, the seventh-ranked Kankakee Kays girls basketball team knew it would have to compete and compete hard Thursday night.

The Kays responded in kind by playing with enough fire to turn back an equally spirited effort from the Stars and earn a pivotal 73-68 Southland Athletic Conference home win.

The victory moved the Kays’ record to 22-4 overall and 10-1 in the Southland. Rich South fell to 9-2 in league play and 19-4 in all games. Furthermore, the win allowed Kankakee to avenge a seven-point loss to Rich South last month and move into sole possession of the conference lead with five games remaining.

Early on, some Kays’ fans might have been lulled into a false sense of security as Kankakee grabbed a 34-20 lead midway through the second quarter. But Rich South responded with 10 unanswered points to climb back into the contest, and the Stars eventually tied the game early in the fourth period before the Kays pulled away.

One person who did not become complacent as Kankakee jumped out to a big lead was its coach, John Maniatis. With that prior loss and the knowledge that both teams have garnered state-wide attention this year, Maniatis knew exactly how the Stars were going to work themselves back in the game.

“They have fine guard play, good senior leadership and they compete,’’ Maniatis said.

On the other hand, Kankakee’s senior leadership is limited to the two four-year players on the roster, Ambranette Storr and Imani Williams.

Storr, who is committed to attend Drake University next year, was outstanding, particularly when Rich South drew close. She hit a layup at the halftime buzzer to end Rich South’s 10-0 run and give Kankakee a 36-30 lead, and had several similar baskets in the second half when the Stars were threatening to pull ahead.

“That’s what McDonald’s All-Americans do,’’ Maniatis said of Storr.

While Storr made several critical baskets, she complimented her teammates for helping her produce the clutch offense.

“They know my strength as a scorer,’’ Storr said of her team’s success in getting the ball in her hands.

Storr also acknowledged Rich South’s gritty effort.

“They’re a scrappy team and we’re scrappy too,’’ Storr said.

That layup from Storr seemed to negate any lingering effects of a Stars comeback in the second half, as the Kays clamped down to finish off their wire-to-wire lead.

Stat Book

Storr had a remarkably consistent scoring line, notching 35 points overall, including 20 in the second half, when she scored 10 in each quarter.

Sophomore guard Avery Jackson, who Maniatis calls “an emerging young star’’ added 17 points. Williams finished with 15. Keimora Banks led Rich South with 23 points.

Up Next

Kankakee returns to action next Tuesday when it travels to Park Forest to play Rich East at 6:30 p.m.

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