BY JOSEPH PHILLIPS
Finishing with a 13-10 record overall and a 4-5 record in conference play, Coach Marlo Finner and the Kenwood Broncos fell short of their pre-season goal of winning the Red South Conference championship and sustained success in the Chicago Public League City playoffs.
In spite of an early first round exit in the state tournament and a second round ouster in the city playoffs, junior star Seryee Lewis said it was a successful year, citing his academic growth.
“Beyond Sports (Foundation) helped me a lot as an student athlete,” said Lewis, who entered his junior season with a 3.8 grade point average at Kenwood.
“We spoke to Duke University’s assistant coach [and former Duke and Illinois high school basketball star player] Jon Scheyer, who gave us great on-the-court and off-the-court advice.”
Lewis said the program gave him exposure not only in the sports world but at the university level also.
Since joining the program in 2017, Lewis said he has earned 10 Division I scholarship offers. The schools that are interested in Lewis include Brown University, Columbia University, St. Louis University, Western Illinois University, Southern Illinois University, University of Tennessee Martin, University of Illinois Chicago, Southern Utah University, and Loyola Marymount University.
During the 2017-18 season, Lewis was named to the National Honor Society and credited most of his success, hard work and focus to his parents, teachers at Kenwood and the Beyond Sports Foundation.
But the lack of on-court success for the team took a toll.
Following the season, Finner resigned as head coach after five seasons in the post, labeling his final year “unfortunate.”
“I have officially resigned as head coach of the boys varsity basketball team at Kenwood Academy,” said Finner in a March 6 interview with the Herald. “And after five years, it’s been a great ride.”
Finner, a Chicago Public League basketball legend from his days playing at Phillips Academy in the early ‘90s, led the Broncos to their first city championship appearance in 2016. Over a three-year span, Finner turned an average program into a city powerhouse.
“The best memories that I have (to take with me) are the kids,” said Finner. “The guys you helped mature from boys to men. We help put Kenwood on the map.”
The coach said the game has changed a lot and pointed out that outside influences have changed how coaches work with players.
During his tenure, Finner’s teams won two Red Central Conference Championships, two Illinois High School Association Regional titles, several top three finishes in Holiday tournaments, and one Final Four victory over Curie High School in 2016.
Finner also helped develop several Division I scholarship athletes for the Broncos. Including guard/forward Nick Robinson of St. Joseph University (class of 2016), point guard/shooting guard Zion Morgan of the University of Nevada Las Vegas (class of 2016), Manny Patterson (class of 2017) who currently plays for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay as a starter and many others.
Since the interview, 30 candidates reportedly have expressed interest in Kenwood’s top basketball coaching job.