Coming off their best season since 2004, the Leo Lions previewed the 2016-17 high school basketball season with the annual Black and Orange games at Leo on Friday, Nov. 18. The frosh-sops played at 5:30, followed by the varsity.

Six of the top eight players from the Leo team that went 24-8 and finished as runner-up in the IHSA Class 1-A state tournament have graduated, leaving Coach Shawn Frison with a major rebuilding project.

Speaking of rebuilding projects, the Leo gym has been spruced up with new backboards, a refinished floor, a fresh coat of paint and a renovated home locker room. The team is eager to get started.

“We’re young, but we’ve got some talent and we’ve been working hard,” Frison said. “As the season progresses and we gain experience, I expect us to be competitive.”

Khalid Manney, a 6-4 senior forward, and 6-2 senior guard Aamir Holmes return after making important contributions as reserves last season. Senior guard Mario Pittman is back with the Lions after spending his junior year at a charter school. Junior forward Malcolm Bell is also back in the fold after attending a public school for his sophomore year.

“I missed the brotherhood,” Bell said.

The regular season gets under way Nov. 21-23 with three games in the Little Village Thanksgiving Tournament. The Lions open Catholic League play at St. Rita on Dec. 2. They’ll return to Rich South for the Big Dipper holiday tournament Dec. 26-29.

The Brother Rice game scheduled for Feb. 3 is Leo’s home game, but it will be played at Brother Rice to accommodate an anticipated large crowd, as well as a postgame reception for alumni from both schools.