by Bill Figel

Leo’s young basketball squad visited Catholic League rival St. Laurence in a non-conference tilt Tuesday night in Burbank with both teams eager to get back toward .500 on the season before tough conference play begins in earnest Friday.

St. Laurence of the Catholic League White beat Leo 65-41 on the strength of traditional three-point plays and the long-range variety.

Leo, in the more challenging Catholic League Blue, met conference favorite De La Salle and lost its home opener 71-40 last week.  Friday, the Lions (1-3, 01) return home to face another Blue conference favorite Brother Rice at 7 p.m.

The Lions kept Tuesday’s game close in the early going, trailing 10-9 at the close of the first quarter, but turnovers in bunches continued to plague Leo against the Viking’s collapsing press. Unforced errors in the half-court offense also contributed to a 23-18 halftime deficit.

Marlo Moore’s heady play on an inbound pass led to a half-court bank to beat the half-time buzzer and close the gap to five points and put a lift in Leo’s boisterous run to the locker room.

In his second game back, it was Stephen Barze who used his will and inside game to make for a competitive first half, but foul trouble stifled his physical play in the second half and he fouled out trying to contain St. Laurence’s slinky 6-5 forward Josh Pickett. The Viking transfer finished with 16 points on the strength of seven free throws in eight attempts.

Pickett, who would have been nicknamed “Wicked” in another era, was just that with the Wilson in a third-quarter blitz. He opened with a long-range three followed by the traditional bucket plus one and an offensive rebound put back, accounting for eight points in the span of 78 seconds. Leo called time out trailing 31-20 with 5:42 left in the third quarter.

Leo’s Moore and Emmanuel Walker had eight points each and Karon Shavers seven.

The home team built leads of 59-36 capitalizing on Leo turnovers and Barze’s fifth foul sending Picket to the line again to compete a three-point play with 4:44 to play.

“Just because we’ve suffered some losses doesn’t mean we are not coming together,” said Marshawn Durr, 6-2 junior guard/forward. “We are all still on the same page and everyone is working hard to improve themselves to help the team.  I’ve got to figure out ways to help on offense.

“There’s a lot that is very new to us, like new faces on the team, coach in his second year and some of us are starting for the first time in the Catholic League. There might be losses now but we will turn them into wins if we stay together and keep working.”

The Lions return home Friday against Brother Rice (7-0).