After a shaky beginning, the Leo Lions took a successful first step on the road to the state basketball tournament, defeating Douglass Academy 72-40 in the first round of the IHSA Class 1-A Regional on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at Walther Christian School in Melrose Park.

Early foul trouble and a seven-day layoff were the culprits as Leo (19-8) struggled throughout the first half. Senior guard Darius Branch scored nine of his 12 points in the second quarter to stake the Lions to a 29-22 lead at the halftime break.

But Darias Oliver took over in the third quarter, scoring 12 of his 17 points as Leo broke the game open with a 29-point outburst. Corielle Robinson came to life in the fourth, scoring 11 of his game-high 19 as Leo pulled away to the final 32-point margin.

Next up for Leo is John Hope Academy, a Chicago charter school, in the Regional final at Walther Christian on Friday, Feb. 26. Game time is 7 p.m. The winner advances to the Class 1-A Sectional at Harvest Christian School in Elgin.