By Dan McGrath

The vagaries of high school basketball.

In the Leo Lions’ 10-point dispatching of Aurora Central Catholic on Tuesday, Jan.16, the teams combined to shoot 64 free throws, 36 by the Lions, who converted 27 for half their 54-point total.

This was not that.

Against the University of Chicago Lab School (U-High) at Leo one night later, the teams combined to shoot 12 free throws.

Leo has won five straight from the Maroons since losing to them in a 2017 IHSA Regional final, but most of the games have been taut, to-the-wire competitions.

This was not that, either.

These Maroons lack the size, skill and know-how of their recent predecessors, so Leo’s 58-25 victory was something of a mismatch, played with a running clock for the last four minutes.

But it served a purpose. With his team playing its third game in five days, and with three more scheduled in the next four days, Coach Jamille Ridley was hoping to get his starters some rest. 

He succeeded—all 13 players who were in uniform saw the floor, and 10 of them scored, juniors Emmanuel Walker and Kam’ron Dove leading the way with 12 points apiece and freshman Brandon Gandy dropping three three-pointers for nine.  

Junior point guard Marlo Moore, who has logged especially heavy minutes, sat out the second half as junior Jerry Brown and freshmen Karon Shavers, Brian Kizer and Tyrell Keys shared ball-handling responsibilities and kept the Lions moving.

“We did what we had to do,” Ridley said. “Everybody got to play and everybody contributed.”  

Leo (9-10) surpassed last season’s victory total with its sixth win in seven games. Now it’s back to business. Next up for the Lions is Fenwick (12-6, 4-2 Catholic League), which visits Leo for Alumni Night on Friday, Jan. 19.

“They’re good,” Ridley said. “They like to play fast, but they’re under control and they can shoot it. We’ll have our hands full.”

A freshman game has been added to the program, scheduled to tip off at 4 p.m., followed by the sophomores at 5:30 and the varsity at 7. It’s Alumni Night, and the Jesse White tumblers are scheduled to perform at halftime of the varsity game, so we’re expecting a full house.

If you’re  planning to come, please come early.