Leo basketball is still Leo basketball, and even with a young, undersized team composed of five new starters, there are nights when the Lions are simply going to out-talent an opponent. 

That was the case in Aurora on Monday, Feb. 22. All five starters scored in double figures as Leo (2-3) ran past Marmion Academy 76-59 in a Catholic League matchup. The Cadets (0-2) were playing only their second game after spending the first two weeks of this truncated season in COVID quarantine. They competed, but were clearly outmanned.  

Leo’s starting guard line of sophomore Ja’keem Cole (18), junior Cameron Cleveland (17) and sophomore Tyler Smith (12) combined for 47 points and were almost impervious to Marmion’s attempts at pressure defense, weaving through it to create one good shot after another.

But for the first time this season the Lions enjoyed an advantage up front as well as junior forward Rob Smith scored a career-best 13 points with eight rebounds and two blocks. Senior Kobe Roberts took down six rebounds with two blocks in limited minutes.

The most intriguing player on the floor, though, may well have been the youngest. Christian Brockett, a mere freshman, missed only one shot all night while scoring 14 points with seven rebounds, three assists and five steals. This after the 5-foot-11 guard had scored 27 points in leading the Leo sophomore team to a 46-38 victory over Marmion’s sophs in the preliminary game. 

“He has a chance to be a special player,” Leo Coach Jamal Thompson said.    

Meanwhile, the Lions have a chance to reach the .500 mark when they host Montini (1-5) at Leo on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Then the schedule turns into a minefield: Loyola at home, at Mount Carmel, at Fenwick, at Brother Rice.

“We’re a young team, but we’re playing hard and we’re learning,” Thompson said. “I definitely see progress.”