By Dan McGrath
The Leo Lions saw what a championship team looks like on a visit to DePaul Prep on Friday.
The Rams are not only the defending Class 2-A state champions, they are 20-2 this season and undefeated in Catholic League play.
“That is a good basketball team, a serious basketball team,” Leo Coach Jamille Ridley said after the Lions took a 62-23 whipping and fell to 10-12, 3-7. “They play hard, they play together and they execute. We can all learn from how well they execute, including me.”
It was Senior Night at DePaul Prep, and Jaylan McElroy, a 6-foot-6 senior who has been bedeviling the Lions since DePaul Prep was Gordon Tech, might have been expected to go out and score 30.
Nope. He settled for six points, but he rebounded and defended like a demon and was easily one of the most impactful players on the floor without scoring a bunch.
He had help from Rashaun Porter, an intimidating 6-6 sophomore who will be a handful for Catholic League opponents over the next two years. Porter muscled his way to 11 points, all in the first half, but his greatest contribution was teaming with McElroy to deny the Lions any semblance of an inside game.
They were forced to fire away from distance all evening. Emanuel Walker hit two three-pointers among the 10 or so he attempted and was Leo’s leading scorer with six points. None of the other Lions managed more than four points.
Ridley’s parting advice to his team: Sleep fast. Leo would be back in action at 11 a.m. on Saturday, facing Michelle Clark at the Rich Township Shootout, a game that was added to the schedule to make up for the two-game MLK shootout in Moline that was lost to severe weather.
Clark, a Public League charter school, is 11-10 against a so-so schedule. It’s a chance for bounce-back.