By Dan McGrath

Three-point shooting can overcome all manner of mistakes in a basketball game.  

The Leo Lions made a bundle in Wednesday’s nonconference skirmish with Southland College Prep, including 23 turnovers. They also buried nine three-pointers in the first half and 11 in the game in subduing their high-spirited visitors 61-49.

Southland College Prep is a Matteson-based charter school serving the south suburbs. Its team is a collection of playground artisans who never met a shot they didn’t like and who play with a carefree insouciance that suggests they can shoot themselves into or out of any game at any time.

Leo (3-7) staked itself to a 38-23 halftime lead as freshman Brian Kizer and junior Emmanuel Walker made seven three’s between them and combined for 29 points.

Though the shots didn’t fall as often in the second half, the lead grew to 21 as Southland juniors Gabryel Patterson and David Shaw kept firing from the neighboring zip code. Patterson eventually found the range with a variety of exotic offerings and scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the second half to keep his team in it.

But the Lions kept their poise and countered when they needed to, and the 12-point final margin was as close as it got after halftime.

Kizer finished with 21 points and Walker 17. Freshmen Karon Shavers, Nate Stephens and Tyrell Keys also gave the Lions some big minutes, and while Stephens drew some good-natured hoots when he airballed a free throw and missed two dunks, he was a man on the boards and helped Leo hold its own underneath against the taller Eagles.

The Lions’ two-week break from the Catholic League meatgrinder continues with an appearance in the IC Catholic/Westmont Christmas Tournament beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 26 with a 4:30 tipoff against Willowbrook at IC Catholic.

Some late withdrawals forced tournament organizers to abandon the traditional bracket for a pool-play arrangement. What’s known is Leo will play Willowbrook in its Tuesday opener and Taft from the Chicago Public League on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., also at IC Catholic. From that point on the matchups will be determined by the first two rounds of pool play.