In familiar Leo basketball fashion, the young Lions showed their resiliency Thursday night bouncing back quickly from a loss to top-seed and top-ranked Glenbard West 69-46 Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament at York High School in Elmhurst.
Thursday night, Leo (7-2) beat Lake Forest 58-55 in the consolation bracket with balanced scoring: Austin Ford, 19; Jakeem Cole, 14; Cameron Cleveland, 13; Tyler Smith, nine.
While scoring tells one story, the box score reveals the rapid growth of this young team entering tough Catholic League play in earnest after the holidays.
Leo only turned the ball over seven times, dished out eight assists and, most importantly, converted 12 of 17 free throws to shore up weaknesses that have “dogged” the Lions early on.
“Because of the pandemic we only had two practices going into the tournament, but I knew once we started playing the guys would improve on the turnovers and free throws,” said Leo Coach Jamal Thompson. “And we did.”
“Absolutely, the guys ability to improve from day to day shows we’re getting ready for Catholic League play.”
Thompson treats every road trip as a teachable moment for Leo and reminds his players that the way they handle themselves is a direct reflection on the school they represent – Leo.
After the Glenbard West loss, an anonymous contributor to Leo’s scholarship fund made a phone call to his only contact at Leo, an alum.
“I just want to tell you how impressed I was with how hard those Leo kids played and how well they handled themselves,” he said Wednesday night. “They never quit. Watching those young men made me glad my wife and I sent a check in last year to help a place like Leo.”
Said Coach Thompson: “We tell the boys all the time that you never know who is watching you and how important it is to live up to the ideals set for Leo by those who came before.”
COVID exposure continues to be a concern with the Leo administration taking all measures in keeping everybody safe.
We will keep you abreast of further developments, advise caution and continue to pray for your health and safety. Games streamed on YouTube can be found @JackToshHC.
—The Leo Team