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Daily Journal
     March 4, 2020      #72-64 KDJ
 

BOYS BASKETBALL: Kankakee opens regional play with

By Cody Smith
csmith@daily-journal.com


KANKAKEE — Knowing how talented the Kankakee boys basketball team is this season, the Kays have their eyes set on a deep postseason run. After finishing the regular season 24-4 overall and routinely seeing themselves ranked in the Top 10 of the Associated Press Poll, the Kays began postseason play at home in IHSA Class 3A Regional Semifinal action against Evergreen Park knowing they have a chance to return to the Sweet Sixteen round they were at in 2017-18.

“Our goal is to accomplish the goals of what we should have accomplished two years ago,” senior forward Lavell McIntosh said. “We need to get past the Sweet Sixteen and make it all the way because we have the potential to do it.”

The Kays are still far away from obtaining that goal, but they took the first step Tuesday with an 87-60 dismantling of the Mustangs.

“Our intensity has picked up,” McIntosh said. “Practice is more intense; we are going neck-and-neck at each other. It’s just more intense, and we just got to keep working hard.”

The Kays’ intensity proved to be too much for the Mustangs right from the jump. Kankakee opened the first quarter on an 8-0 run before being able to take a 19-point lead into the second quarter. From there, the Kays continued to turn defense into offense by getting steals and running in transition.

Kankakee’s starters combined for 11 steals that regularly turned into offensive scores at the other end. The Kays’ defensive tenacity helped Kankakee to continue to build on its lead in both the second and third quarters. It is what helped the Kays ultimately take a 74-47 lead into the fourth before going on to win the semifinal game by a convincing 27 points.

“We were able to get field goals, and we were able to get enough stops to create separation that just enabled us to cruise,” Kankakee coach Chris Pickett said.

Some teams aren’t capable of being able to hold on to such big leads, let alone extend them. However, that is not the case with Kankakee because of its luxury of having so many different, capable, scorers.

“We have been that type of team all season, where we have had multiple guys be able to be an offensive threat,” Pickett said. “And when we are playing that way, we are a difficult to cover and prepare for.”

Stat book

Each of Kankakee’s five starters managed to finish in double-figure scoring. McIntosh led the Kays with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Kevin Allen added 16 points and totaled four steals. Rashard Harris poured in another 15 points, and AJ Storr totaled a double-double, scoring 11 points and snagging 10 boards. Rounding out the top-five scorers for the Kays was Deylon Johnson, who finished with 10 points.

Up Next

The win improved Kankakee to 25-4 this season as they wait to see who they will face off against in the Class 3A Kankakee Regional Championship. The Kays will play the winner of today’s semifinal game between Rich East and Providence at 7 p.m. Friday.

“We have a goal, and we know that every game ... from here on out, the competition is going to be stiffer,” Pickett said. “So, we have to prepare for that, and everything we do is geared toward winning, and so Friday night is the next opportunity to do that.”

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