If you’re trying to negate a two-game losing streak with a two-game winning streak, you can thank the schedule-makers if they set you up with two opponents whose combined record is 4-36.
That was the case for the Leo Lions. After uncharacteristic failures against St. Laurence and Maine South saddled them with their first two-game skid in more than a year, they had a chance to make amends against St. Francis de Sales (1-19) in a Catholic League game at Leo on Friday, Jan. 18, followed by a meeting with Crete-Monee (3-17) in the MLK Day of Hoops Shootout at Oswego High School three days later.
They availed themselves of the opportunity, rolling the Pioneers 113-42 before putting a defensive squeeze on the Warriors, 69-30. Crete-Monee managed just 10 second-half points, including two in the third period while the Lions were running off 26 of their own.
The back-to-back blowouts leave Leo with a 15-5 overall record and a 6-2 Catholic League mark heading into one of its most challenging weekends of the season: The Lions travel to Aurora to face Marmion (1-8, 8-15) on Friday, Jan. 25, then visit Brother Rice (6-2, 14-6) on Saturday, Jan. 26.
“We’re playing better, but we’ve got to put some work in this week to keep it going,” Coach Jamal Thompson said.
Fred Cleveland’s shooting slump seemed a thing of the past as he broke loose for 29 points against de Sales and 25 against Crete-Monee, on 10-for-15 shooting. DaChaun Anderson went for 44 points and 17 rebounds in the two games, while Kevin Drumgoole continues to make an impact at both ends of the floor with his ball-handling and defense.
With both games in hand by halftime, Thompson was able to make liberal use of his bench and was rewarded with productive minutes from juniors Tim Howard (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Dorian Woods, as well as sophomore Adarius West. Against Crete-Monee, a lineup that included Drumgoole, Woods and West may well have offered a glimpse of next season’s backcourt.
The Brother Rice game was originally scheduled for a Tuesday night, but the rivalry between the two longtime rivals always draws a crowd better suited to a weekend meeting. There were no alternate Friday dates available, so both schools agreed to a Saturday game with a 5 p.m. tipoff.