No one chanted “over-rated” as the Leo Lions struggled with DRW Trading Charter School in their IHSA Class 2A Regional basketball opener at Chicago’s Marshall High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20. But they might have.

Leo, after all, was 19-5 overall, No. 6 in the latest Chicago Sun-Times area rankings, winner of 12 games in a row and undefeated (8-0) champion of the Chicago Catholic League White Division.

DRW Trading was 8-11.

The Lions played down to the level of their competition for much of the first half, scoring nine points in the first quarter, managing just two over one five-minute span, committing 13 first-half turnovers and clanking several layups off the rim.

Fred Cleveland even missed four of his seven first-half free throws, which never happens.

But defense was a constant for Leo throughout the evening, and its offense caught up in the second half. Lawless Award winner Cleveland scored 8 of his game-high 24 points in the third period and Malcolm Bell and Jadon Williams added six apiece as the Lions outscored the scrappy Cheetahs 25-11 and raced off to a 66-33 victory, their 13th straight.

Leo (20-5) will play host Marshall (8-17) for the regional championship and a berth in the Collins Academy Sectional at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23. The Commandos upended Chicago Tech Charter 75-62 in Tuesday’s other game.

Better ball movement, improved shooting and a decisive edge on the boards turned Tuesday’s game in the Lions’ favor. Six of Cleveland’s seven assists came after halftime. Brothers DaChaun (10 and 12) and Kendale (seven and nine) Anderson combined for 17 points and 21 rebounds. Junior Rod-shad Woods contributed seven points and energetic play off the bench.

Leo’s 21 turnovers were potentially harmful, but the Cheetahs didn’t shoot well enough to take advantage.

A better start and a more consistent effort will be required against Marshall if this dream season is to continue.

The Catholic League postseason awards are indicative of just how impressive this season has been. Cleveland and DaChaun Anderson earned spots on the six-man All-Catholic League team, encompassing both the White and Blue Divisions. Leo was the only school with two All-Catholic selections. Bell joined them as a first-team pick on the All-White Division squad.

The Lawless Award for White Division Player of the Year went to Cleveland, and Shawn Frison—64-23 in his three seasons as Leo’s coach—picked up a Lawless Award for White Division Coach of the Year.

The White Division conference title is the Lions’ first since 2010, and Cleveland is their first Lawless winner since Andre Brown in 2000.

Dan McGrath ’68, President
Leo High School