Leo built on the momentum of its comeback victory over Brother Rice by beating Rich Central 63-58 in the first round of the McDipper Holiday Tournament at Rich South High School in Richton Park on Friday, Dec. 26.

The Lions will face Bolingbrook, a 59-50 winner over University High, in the second round at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 27. The semifinals are scheduled for Monday, Dec. 28 and the finals on Tuesday, Dec. 29.

Friday’s 9 a.m. starting time was a concern to Coach Noah Cannon, but Leo came out with good energy and jumped to an early 8-0 lead. The Lions led by three (20-17) after one period and by six (36-30) at halftime, but Prince Walker’s strong outside shooting and some uncharacteristic Leo turnovers enabled Rich Central to sneak ahead 53-51 early in the final period.

Darias Oliver scored four quick points before fouling out with 3:17 remaining, and Kewan Smith’s two free throws gave the Lions a lead they would not relinquish as they limited Rich Central to two points in the final 2 1/2 minutes to improve to 6-3 overall this season.

Oliver led the Lions with a game-high 25 points, collecting 12 in the first quarter and nine in the third. Darius Branch added 19 points, Latrell Giles had a season-high eight points and Smith scored all four of his points in the final three minutes.

Leo won the consolation title at the McDipper last season, coming back with three straight victories after a first-round loss to Joliet Central. Branch was named to the all-tournament team as a sophomore.