WZND

103.3 WZND Fuzed Radio

Current track

Title

Artist

Current show

Ro

10:00 pm 11:59 pm


“Kin-sanity” Continues: Freshman Kinziger and ‘Birds Best Bears in Home Finale

Written by on February 29, 2024

Image courtesy of Redbird Athletics

NORMAL Ill. – In a thrilling matchup against the Missouri State Bears, Illinois State men’s basketball faced a nail-biting second half with less than three seconds remaining, trailing by just one point. The spotlight turned to Johnny Kinziger, a freshman emerging as a standout player in the Missouri Valley Conference.

The 5’11” guard received the inbound pass near the sideline. Taking a mid-range jumper, he sunk the shot and sealed a crucial 75-74 victory over the Missouri State Bears. This moves the Redbirds 9-9 in the MVC and puts them at the seventh seed in the conference.

Reflecting on the game-winning play, Kinziger credited the team’s execution of a well-drawn play by Coach Ryan Pedon. With a coordinated effort, including a key screen and a precise pass from his teammates, Kinziger found himself in the perfect position to clinch the win.

“We got in the huddle and coach drew up a great play with a little screen to screener action, and we executed it to perfection.” Kinziger said, “Myles [Foster] had a great screen on the guy guarding me, and Dalton [Banks] had me right in the shooting pocket, and it was game from there.”

Throughout the game, Kinziger showcased his skills, contributing 20 points from both the field and beyond the arc, along with four assists and no turnovers. This is no surprise from the superstar freshman, as he just secured his second MVC Freshman of the Week Honor this past Monday.

Coach Pedon expressed his confidence in Kinziger’s ability, highlighting his reliability in crucial moments. The game-winning shot was a testament to Kinziger’s skill and both Coach Pedon and the team’s trust in him. Kinziger’s teammates made it clear that they knew they had a chance, once Kinziger had the ball.

“It’s awesome,” Foster said. “Now, being a senior, kind of just looking at Johnny hitting the game-winner as a freshman, you just reflect from how quickly these four years go by.”

Despite trailing at halftime and facing a deficit on the boards, the Redbirds rallied in the second half.

“I thought we did a better job in the second half of just really competing.” Pedon said, “Digging deep and competing. I didn’t think we were nearly physical enough in the first half.”

Players like Myles Foster and Kendall Lewis also played vital roles in this win, with Foster achieving a milestone of 1,000 career points. This led him to join Darius Burford and Kendall Lewis as Redbirds who have reached the milestone this season.

Foster, reflecting on his achievement, emphasized the camaraderie among teammates and the privilege of playing college basketball. The Redbirds’ renewed energy in the second half helped them build a lead, although Missouri State mounted an undeniable comeback.

In the end, it was Kinziger’s clutch shot that secured the win for Illinois State, amid a competitive performance and strong defensive game from both teams. With strong teamwork and strategic ball movement, the Redbirds proved themselves in a hard-fought battle at CEFCU in the last home game of the season.