SPORTS YEAR IN REVIEW 2017

Kenwood Academy High School senior Robert McGee scores two points against Gray Collegiate Academy, Saturday, Dec. 2, in the 6th Annual Chicago Elite Classic at UIC Pavillion, 525 S Racine Ave. – Owen M. Lawson III

By Joseph Phillips
Staff Writer

MARCH MADNESS!

Kenwood boys basketball team wins the 2017 IHSA 4A State Regional Title

Thanks to 17 points and several rebounds performance by 6’8” senior center Manny Patterson, coach Marlo Finner and the Kenwood Academy High School Broncos boys basketball team would clinch the Class 4A 2017 State Regional Championship title with a 69-45 victory over Proviso West High School on a Friday night in March in Hillside, Ill.

“It was a tough battle (in the beginning),” said Marlo Finner, head coach of Kenwood Academy. “We came out and played very well over our past two games.”

Kenwood, who would fall to Whitney Young High School in the following round, kicked off March Madness with a bang after earning two impressive victories over Leyden High School and Proviso West a week prior in the playoffs. The two victories were a perfect anecdote to a tough playoff loss suffered two weeks prior to Young after a 80-58 blowout loss on their home floor. 

With the win, the Broncos improved to 2-0 in the state playoffs but would lose their following game against Whitney Young in a rematch held on March 8, at Proviso East High School gymnasium in Maywood.

U-High tennis team crowned IHSA 1A State Champs in men’s doubles in May

For the first time in 90 years, the U-High Maroons men’s tennis team clinched the 2017 Illinois High School Association tennis doubles state championship in May, thanks to two strong clutch performances by junior Sam Fleming and freshmen Arjun Asokumar.

“Winning the fourth doubles tennis state championship, 90 years after our third one, exhibits the deep history and tradition of our athletic program and highlights the skill and talent of our current student athletes,” said David Ribbens, athletic director of U-High. “Athletics was important then and it remains important now.”

According to Ribbens, Fleming and Asokumar led their doubles team to a regular season undefeated record of 15-0, while sweeping the playoffs 6-0 on their way to its first 1A tennis doubles state title in 90 years.

U. of C. swimmer heads to Budapest for FINA Championship during the summer

The University of Chicago Maroons women’s swim team’s Naomy Grand’Pierre would take on world-class competitors in the month of July in the 2017 “17th FINA World Championships,” in Budapest, Hungary.

The event would take place from July 14th through the 30th, as Haiti’s representative, Grand’Pierre would participate in two races on Saturday, July 29, in the 50-meter freestyle competition followed by the 50-meter breaststroke
competition.

Known as the rising junior on the Maroons swimming and diving team, Grand’Pierre made history at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after becoming the first woman swimmer ever to represent Haiti at the Olympics.

In the 50-meter freestyle preliminaries, she took second place in her heat with a mark of 27.46 seconds and placed 56th out of 88 athletes in the event.

Kenwood baseball star invited to MLB camp in the month of June

Known as a south side legend after leading Jackie Robinson West to the Little League World Series in 2014, Brandon Green, a fifteen-year-old honor student from Kenwood Academy High School, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., was selected as one of 60 players to attend the “2017 Breakthrough Major League Baseball’s Youth Summer Camp” on June 27, in Compton, California.

“I am truly honored,” said Green, after being selected to play in one of the top baseball camps in the country. “At age 15, I couldn’t have imagined having such an amazing experience. This is the first time I have flown by myself to do something I’ve grown to love so much.”

Green joined 59 other possible future Major League Players in California. The camp was hosted by MLB in collaboration with USA Baseball, featuring a program designed to provide elite caliber players the opportunity to receive advanced level instruction, mentorship and insight from former Major League players and coaches.

Green, a rising baseball standout, whose talents have enabled him to travel extensively to play the sport he loves, was a member of the first all-African-American Little League Baseball team to win the United States Little League World Series Championship in 2014. After the victory, Green and his teammates were invited to be a guest of former President of the United States Barack Obama at the White House.

Mt. Carmel baseball player crowned Gatorade’s Player of The Year in 2017

Mount Carmel High School junior Alek Thomas was named as Gatorade’s 2016-17 Illinois Baseball Player of the Year, for the first time in school history.Mount Carmel High School junior Alek Thomas was named as Gatorade’s 2016-17 Illinois Baseball Player of the Year, for the first time in school history.

The prestigious award honors and recognizes not only outstanding baseball performances on the field from a player, but also a high standard of academic achievement and exemplary character off the field as a student.

Thomas is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award and with a win, would join the likes of former and current Major League Baseball superstars and past award-winners; Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo High School, Mich.), Jon Lester (2001-02, Bellarmine Preparatory School, Wash.), David Price (2003-04, Blackman High School, Tenn.), Clayton Kershaw (2005-06, Highland Park High School, Texas), Rick Porcello (2006-2007, Seaton Hall Preparatory School, N.J.) and Kris Bryant (2009-10, Bonanza High School, Nev.) who currently plays for the 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs.

After leading his team to a 26-9 record throughout the regular season, Thomas earned a robust .470 batting average with five triples, 11 home runs, 43 RBI and 59 runs scored through 35 games.

The 5-foot-11, 179-pound junior outfielder led the Caravan in multiple categories and put his name in the record books by becoming the first baseball player in school history to earn a Gatorade Illinois Baseball Player of the Year award.

Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate to the youth organization of their choice and will have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing a brief essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support.

j.phillips@hpherald.com