By Dan McGrath
Football sage Bill Parcells is credited with suggesting, “You are what your record says you are,” as a measure of a team’s relative merits.
In that context, Leo (11-13) vs. Riverside-Brookfield (20-3) on Wednesday night looked like a mismatch.
At Riverside-Brookfield, no less, with the Lions coming off their most disappointing performance of the season, a 43-41 loss to St. Francis de Sales at home.
For a quarter and a half, it looked like a reversal of roles. Leo buried four first-quarter three-pointers, set up a defensive perimeter around 6-foot-11 Stefan Civic and raced out to what became a nine-point lead (24-15) at the midway point of the second quarter.
But a fullcourt press seemed to discombobulate the Lions and take them out of their rhythm. The three-point shots stopped dropping, and worse, Civic began asserting himself inside, with abundant help from guards Steven Brown and Mehki Austin.
R-B closed the half on an 11-0 run for a 26-24 halftime lead that would grow to 12 points early in the fourth quarter. But the Lions never stopped coming, never stopped competing, and the Bulldogs knew they’d been in a game as they left their snazzy gym with a 62-54 victory.
“Better effort, better attitude tonight,” Coach Jamille Ridley said. “Nothing to complain about, no reason to hang our heads. We competed. But they had something you don’t see too often in high school—a 6-11 guy.”
Stivic went for 20 points with seven rebounds, three blocks and a whole bunch of discouraged shots, but the officiating was complicit in his dominance. He set up long enough in the lane to be charged rent, but not once was he called for a three-second violation. And once he realized he had free rein, he muscled over or through any defender who tried to impede him, yet was called for just one offensive foul.
“We’re just not used to that size,” Ridley said.
Brown and Austin, both seniors, combined for 38 points and were a little stronger, a little quicker and a little more savvy than Leo’s youthful guard line. Brown, who has a rather high opinion of himself, scored a game-high 23 points and Austin contributed a less flamboyant 15.
Three players, in other words, were responsible for 58 of R-B’s 62 points.
Leo had seven players score, with Marlo Moore matching his season high with 20, including four three-pointers. Emanuel Walker scored 11 and Karon Shavers and Stephen Barze had nine apiece.
Frying pan, meet fire: The Lions are off to Loyola Academy for the resumption of Catholic League Blue play on Friday night. The Ramblers are 20-5 overall and 2-3 in the CCL, their losses coming to heavyweights Mt. Carmel, Brother Rice and DePaul Prep. “They’ll defend to the death and they’ll pass the ball 20 times before they take a shot, so you just have to stay with them,” Ridley said.
The anticipated matchup turned him philosophical.
“Anything that’s even been good in history is good because it’s consistent—Coke, McDonald’s, Nike—good because they’re consistent,” Ridley said. “If we’re consistent with our effort and attitude, we can be good, too.
“So I told the guys, ‘Let’s put forth the effort and attitude and concentration we had tonight and go up there and pop Loyola.’ We pop Loyola, that would open some eyes.”