By Dan McGrath
Leo-vs.-Curie was the 11th game and clearly the premier game of the 12-game Team Rose Classic at Mt. Carmel over December 11 and 12.
Then the second half started.
The Lions got away from everything they had done well in taking a three-point halftime lead. They looked totally discombobulated as all-business Curie opened the third period with an 11-0 run to grab an eight-point lead that never got smaller than four. Leo shot poorly (14-for-55, or 26 percent, including 3-for-15 on three-pointers), turned the ball over 16 times, totaled only seven assists, took a 41-36 whipping on the boards, and missed five of six third-quarter free throws.
After holding Leo to a desultory five points in the third period, Curie punctuated a 64-51 victory with two thunder dunks in the final minute. The Condors (9-0) are up there with Young, Simeon, Morgan Park and Kenwood as Public League royalty, and they looked the part. They’re a team of quality athletes who do everything well.
“There were two different Leo teams out there today,” Coach Jamal Thompson said. “The second-half team didn’t look anything like the first-half team.”
The Condors didn’t block a ton of shots, but they altered enough to have the Lions looking for a defender each time they loaded up—at least eight of Leo’s 41 misses were layups.
They also were uncommonly good at the foul line. Big men Chikasi Ofoma and Jeremy Harrington combined to hit 16 of 19 free throws en route to 18 points apiece. As a team Curie was 22-for-28 at the line to Leo’s 11-for-19.
Leo got 15 points and 11 rebounds from Cam Cleveland and 10 points from Jakeem Cole. Jarrod Gee’s eight points off the bench were a first-half igniter, but he barely played in the second half and didn’t score. Foul trouble rendered Christian Brockett quiet; Leo’s top defender and most efficient ballhander played barely a quarter and fouled out with 7 ½ minutes remaining.
Leo (3-1) has little time to feel sorry for itself. The Lions are back in action on Tuesday, Dec. 14, playing host to University High in a nonconference game.