It was a long time coming, but it was worth the wait.
The Leo Lions registered their most significant victory of the basketball season on Friday, Jan. 15, edging Hales 68-65 at Hales. Now 15-3 for the season and 4-1 in the Catholic League, the Lions have won five straight games since their loss to eventual champion Thornton in the second round of the Big Dipper holiday tournament.
Leo hadn’t beaten Hales since the 2011-12 season, but put an end to the losing streak with balanced scoring, strong rebounding and hard-nosed defense. The Spartans scored the first basket of the game, but Leo responded with a 9-0 spurt and never trailed thereafter, withstanding several Hales flurries in the final minutes.
Darias Oliver scored 15 of his team-high 25 points in the first half and Corielle Robinson had 10 of his 15 in the second for the Lions. Chris Winters took down 17 rebounds and added nine points, while Darius Branch contributed 12 points, eight assists and steady, reliable ballhandling against Hales’ pressure defense.
Branch, a four-year starter, beat Hales for the first time in his exemplary Leo career. The sophomore team made it a clean sweep for Leo with a 58-55 victory in the preliminary game.
Next up for the Lions is a game at Seton on Friday, Jan. 22, followed by Alumni Night against St. Laurence at Leo on Jan. 29.