The Binion brothers and TJ Wicks, a long, athletic 6-9 senior, have the entire town of Kankakee enthralled with basketball this winter.
“We are just striving to get to Peoria, that is our main thing,” Darion Binion said. “We are one of the best teams in this area and we feel like we are one of the best teams in the state. We proved that last year.”
The Kays lost in the Class 3A sectional final last season. That just wet the town’s appetite for basketball.
“I can walk into Walgreens or Jewel and people know me because of the success we have had,” Kankakee coach Chris Pickett said. “It’s a sports town. There are grandmas in the front row. It is a big deal for the town. I’m happy and proud to be a part of it. We just want to keep pushing.”
Jacquan and Darion Binion completely controlled the game on Thursday, leading the Kays to a 76-40 win against Rich South.
Jacquan scored 15 points and Darion had 14. The Kays (5-1, 1-1 Southland) only turned the ball over five times.
“Darion is kind of a later bloomer,” Pickett said. “He went through the process, he didn’t play a lot last year. We told him this is his year and he worked his tail off to get better.”
Wicks finished with four points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Lavell McIntosh, a 6-3 junior, added nine points and 12 rebounds.
“As the seniors [my brother and I] have to step up,” Darion Binion said. “If we play unselfish on offense and hard on defense the rest of the team will work together and follow our energy.”
Kankakee’s chemistry is clearly flowing early in the season. The Kays were extremely unselfish and worked hard on defense.
“We make sure our guards share the ball,” Pickett said. “It makes it easier when you are getting baskets off assists.”
Kankakee led by 12 at halftime. The new 30-point running clock was in effect in the fourth quarter.
“We had them staggering at halftime,” Pickett said. “I told them if we came out and set the tone the first few minutes of the third quarter they would eventually quit. They took the note.”
Jamari Ruffin led Rich South (3-3, 1-1) with 15 points and six rebounds. Terrell Hendrix added 14 points and seven boards.
Ten players scored for the Kays. Terrell Sledge, a 6-3 sophomore, had five points and four rebounds off the bench. Junior Kein Allen scored nine points and grabbed five boards.
Kankakee’s only loss so far this season was an eight-point defeat to Bloom, one of the best Class 4A teams in the state.
“We aren’t where we are supposed to be right now but we will get there,” Jacquan Binion said. “It feels good, everyone is rooting for us. It is about Kankakee, the team and the town, not individuals.”