By Dan McGrath

If the Leo Lions didn’t get a good enough sense of what a championship team looks like in earlier beatdowns by Catholic League Blue powers Brother Rice (70-34)  and DePaul Prep (62-23) this season, Mt. Carmel offered them a refresher course at Leo Tuesday night.

The Caravan (26-3, 5-0 CCL Blue, No. 4 Chicago Sun-Times) sped out to a 39-14 halftime lead as sophomore point guard Noah Mister collected 17 points with five assists. 

To their credit, the Lions kept playing hard, and Carmel’s delay tactics and liberal substitutions made for a more competitive second half. But Leo was never in it and lost 63-41, falling to 11-17, 1-5.

“We don’t play well in ‘the Den,’” Carmel Coach Phil Segroves insisted before the game, but his “concern” was quickly alleviated as the Caravan seemed to make every shot they took in opening a 21-9 first-quarter lead. It was Game Over after Leo shot 2-for-10 and committed six turnovers while scoring just five second-quarter points.

How good is Mt. Carmel? Leading scorer and Northwestern signee Angelo Ciaravino missed the game with a hip injury, and Mister was barely heard from in the second half. But the Caravan still won by 22, getting 20 points from Cameron Thomas and 13 from Grant Best and avidly contesting every shot and every pass the Lions tried to make.

Emanuel Walker led the hosts with 11 points. Stephen Barze and freshman Brian Kizer scored seven apiece. 

How good is Mt. Carmel? Road games at Brother Rice (23-3, 5-1) on Friday and DePaul Prep (25-2, 6-0) on Tuesday stand between the Caravan and the Blue Division title. Who’s the best of the three?

Mt. Carmel has two big-time players, a share-the-ball mentality and defensive diligence, but lacks depth. Brother Rice does everything well and has plenty in its toolbox, but no marquee players. DePaul Prep plays suffocating defense and moves the ball, but lacks the surefire 20-point scorer who can go get a bucket whenever one is needed.

“I like DePaul,” Leo Coach Jamille Ridley said. “Defense and discipline. The two key building blocks.”

Leo wraps up the regular season at St. Ignatius (14-11, 1-4) on Friday. The Lions will be assigned to an IHSA Class 2-A Regional at either Julian or South Shore. The postseason schedule will be posted on the school web site as soon as it’s available.