On the bright side, however, LT won four of its last six games including an impressive 66-35 over Addison Trail in a West Suburban Conference crossover game to close out the regular season. LT is also very comfortable with its regional assignment in Elmhurst. The Lions compete annually at the Tosh Holiday Classic hosted by York over Christmas break.
“York is a home away from home for us,” LT coach Tom Sloan said. “Our seniors have played [at York] 11 times over the last two seasons. Our players are very familiar with the court which can’t hurt, but we still have to go out and play good basketball.”
The Lions (12-14, 3-9) will lean on the leadership and ability of senior swingmen Christopher O’Reilly and Jarryd Heath along with talented sophomore point guard Harrison Niego.
O’Reilly is a versatile player with good athleticism and scoring ability, while Heath is a deadeye shooter. Niego, one of the premier younger players in the area who has already made a recruiting trip to Indiana, has adjusted to varsity ball seamlessly this season.
“We expected Harrison to play a lot of minutes,” Sloan said. “He has really come along well. He’s looking to score more and handles defensive pressure very well.”
Juniors, Sam Cybulski and Chris Hester have also performed well particularly in the second half of the season.
“At the start of the year, we weren’t even sure if Sam was going to play but he’s really had a nice season,” Sloan said. “He’s a great rebounder and one of our top players. Over the last 10 games, Chris has been a pleasant surprise and become a major part of our rotation. He’s averaging about eight points and eight rebounds [in last 10 games] and provides us a different level of athleticism.”
Connor Onion, Matt Mrazek, Robert Palmer, Gabe Fisher and Matt Aikens among others have contributed for LT as well this season.
LT opened the postseason Monday against Willowbrook in the York Regional quarterfinals. The regional championship game is set for Friday (7:30 p.m.). York and Bartlett, seeded No. 2 and No. 7 in the Schaumburg Sectional, are the regional favorites while LT is a capable darkhorse to win it.
“All the clichés apply when it comes to the playoffs — win or go home, survive and advance,” Sloan said. “We have to rebound, defend, handle defensive pressure, and pass the ball well to create good scoring opportunities.”