The city has been waiting for a star to step up and claim the spotlight this season. It took a bit longer than usual, but Curie guard Elijah Joiner grabbed the crown on Tuesday at Kenwood.
The senior scored 40 points, a career-high, to lead No. 15 Curie to a 73-39 victory against the No. 3 Broncos.
Joiner shot 11-for-17 from the field and 6-for-9 from three-point range.
“We saw we were No. 15 and we felt kind of disrespected so we wanted to come out and win,” Joiner said.
The Tulsa recruit outscored Kenwood all by himself.
“I realized it when I got subbed out, they told me,” Joiner said. “We still have a lot to prove. We’re going to prove we are the best team in the state.”
Joiner attacked the basket ferociously in the second half. He scored Curie’s final 14 points.
“At the Pontiac Tournament I didn’t shoot it well, me or Allante [Pickens],” Joiner said. “The coaches told me to go to the basket and get to the free throw line so that’s what I did.”
Joiner opened the game with a three-pointer. Then senior Terry Smith Jr. slammed an alley-oop dunk to make it 5-0.
“We just came out more aggressive,” Joiner said. “When [Smith] got the lob that was incredible, that set the gym up. I think we just built from there.”
Kenwood (11-4, 4-1 Red Central) never seemed to recover. The Broncos trailed 38-20 at the half.
“They just came out with more heart than us,” Kenwood senior Manny Patterson said. “One man outscored our whole team. We just lacked heart, we were soft. It was a big game for us and we came out nervous.”
Pickens scored seven points and Treavon Martin added six points and eight rebounds for the Condors (13-2, 5-0).
“[Joiner] is a DI player for a reason,” Curie cocah Mike Oliver said. “He was super tonight. He came out with domination on his mind. When you are playing competition like Kenwood you have to come out with aggression on your mind.”
Antonio Reeves led Kenwood with 11. Octavius Parker scored eight points and Patterson finished with five points and seven rebounds.
“We played the best we could play and Kenwood probably had one of their worst performances,” Oliver said. “That’s a good basketball team, the score doesn’t indicate how good Kenwood is.”
Kenwood beat No. 4 Young early in the season. The Broncos have lost three games to out-of-state teams. This was their first local loss.
Curie, the defending Class 4A state champions, opened the season as the top-ranked team and cruised until Pontiac. The Condors lost to Danville and Joliet West over the holidays.
“We didn’t play defense well [in Pontiac],” Joiner said. “That’s the past. We played defense tonight.”
Curie has another major test this week. The face Thornton and Alonzo Verge, another Player of the Year contender, at TF North on Saturday.
“We are just trying to find our groove and we did it tonight,” Oliver said.Tags: Curie, Kenwood