Although the Lyons Township boys basketball team currently claims an 8-10 record, head coach Tom Sloan believes the Lions have recently played some of their best basketball this season. Explanations as to why LT hoops is on the upswing includes balanced scoring, good defense and the emergence of a few players off the bench.
All those three factors and more contributed to the Lions splitting a pair of games over the weekend. On Saturday, LT routed Kenwood 66-44 as Harrison Niego (14 points), Connor Onion (13 points) and Sam Cybulski (10 points) led the way. Up 17-13 after one quarter, the Lions extended their lead to 36-23 at the half and never looked back.
The game also marked a reunion of sorts as Kenwood coach Jim Maley, who starred on the Lions’ 28-5 squad in 2001 which finished fourth in the state, returned to take on his alma mater.
“I think both sides were excited to play this game,” LT coach Tom Sloan said. “We had a team drop us from its schedule because of too many games scheduled, so we were looking to find a team to play. I thought of Jim, gave him a call and it worked out well.”
On Friday, LT traveled to Hillside to take on Proviso West in West Suburban (Silver) Conference action. The Panthers emerged with a hard-fought 75-70 victory. The Lions led 32-28 at halftime, but Proviso West made eight three-pointers and several clutch free throws in the second half to rally for the win.
“It was a well played game on both sides,” Sloan said. “I think if you talked with any of the Proviso West coaches, they would probably say that was one of the better games their kids played this season.
“We only had 12 turnovers against their pressure which is an acceptable number. In fact, we were able to create some scoring opportunities off their pressure.”
Four players reached double figures for LT, including Cybulski’s 15 points. Chris O’Reilly had 14 points while Niego and Chris Hester netted 12 points apiece. Hester, a reserve who has been coming on lately, also ripped 13 rebounds for the Lions.
“Chris has really burst onto the scene for us,” Sloan said. “He’s an athletic kid who can score and defend. Connor Onion has also been playing well. We’re seeing contributions from guys further on down the list of our bench.”
LT visits Glenbard West on Thursday (7:30 pm) before returning home for Saturday’s 6 p.m. Pack the Place game against conference contender York, which features Colorado State-bound David Cohn.
“Our record [8-10] might not look like we are getting better,” Sloan said, “but there’s no doubt we are improving as a team. We’ve had a tough schedule. It seems like the teams that have beaten us typically have played some of their best basketball of the season.”