by  Bill Figel

The value of a learning curve is defined later by what is actually learned.

Leo began its Catholic League play Friday night against conference favorite De La Salle (5-0, 1-0) falling 71-40 and to a 1-2 record, 0-1 in the Catholic League.

A well-coached Meteor squad with a collective defensive wingspan that kept Leo from penetration took the rough and ready young Lions to school.

In his season debut, Stephen Barze led the Lions with 15 hard-earned points.

De La Salle’s balanced scoring attack was led by Tavariyuan Williams, a 6-5 senior forward who tallied 15 points with an inside-outside offensive game. De’s senior floor leader, guard Bryant Hedrik, controlled the offensive tempo.

Leo’s tenacity and never-back-down stance throughout the contest are vital to the learning process, for a squad with only one senior, Isaiah Gibson.

Former Leo coach Kenton Terrell, De La Salle’s assistant head coach, weighed in after the game.

“The Leo kids play hard,” said Terrell. “They can really look to the future and know good things are going to happen if they keep up that kind of effort.”

Turnovers plagued the Lions against the Meteor’s multiple defensive system, featuring a switching man-to-man, a 1-2-1-1 press and match-up trapping schemes.

The Lions fell behind in the second quarter after keeping it close at 17-10 at the quarter. Stuck on 11 most of the second quarter, Leo turnovers fueled an 18-2 Meteor run to close the half at 35-13.

The young Lions opened the second half with three straight turnovers and the route was on, with Leo falling behind 60-30 to close the quarter and 69-37 late in the contest.

“What we lack in basketball experience we’ll make up for by playing hard and improving every week,” Coach Jamille Ridley said. “We are really pleased to have Stephen Barze with us now.  He’s focused and he’s a straight A student and somebody who’s been on the A or B honor roll every week.”

The Lions continue Catholic League action Tuesday at St. Laurence.

Leo is back home Friday against Brother Rice, which was victorious in its league opener Friday.