By Dan McGrath
Going 0-for-Elmhurst is not an ideal way to close out the calendar year, but Coach Jamille Ridley chose to look on the bright side after his Leo Lions completed an 0-4 showing in the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic with a 55-51 loss to Stagg on Thursday, Dec. 29.
“We played hard and we competed, and if we can do that consistently and cut down on our mistakes, we’ll get better,” Ridley said.
Playing their fourth game in four days and their second at the inhumane hour of 8:30 a.m., the Lions came out with admirable energy and led most of the first quarter before falling behind by two (27-25) at the halftime break.
They looked like a tired team during a listless five-point third quarter, during which Stagg’s lead grew as large as 12 points. But with three freshmen playing major minutes and little-used junior Isiah Gibson contributing seven points off the bench, the Lions made a game of it in the final period, though they couldn’t get any closer than three points back.
Keeland Jordan scored 23 points with 12 rebounds for the Lions, who fell to 4-9 with their eighth loss in nine games. They hit just 38.4 percent of their shots, including 5-for-18 on three-pointers, and a 30-19 rebounding advantage was negated by 22 turnovers.
Domas Narcevicius buried six of nine three-pointers and finished with 20 points for Stagg (8-6), while David Ortiz scored 11.
Ridley planned to give his team a few days off to rest their tired legs before the resumption of Catholic League play at Loyola on Friday, Jan. 6. The Ramblers (10-4 overall, 2-1 Catholic League) are a typically feisty bunch defensively, allowing just 37 points per game while scoring 46.