Charlie Rose will not be remembered as a fan favorite among supporters of Lyons Township High School basketball. The York senior guard calmly drained a clutch three-pointer in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter to tie the host Lions at 59-59 in the nightcap game of Saturday’s annual “Pack the Place” doubleheader on the North Campus.
With the score knotted at 59, LTHS guard Jim Cullen drove to the basket and attempted a game-winning layup, but the ball spun around the rim before falling out to force overtime.
In overtime, the Dukes outscored the Lions 11-3 to spoil the Lions’ bid for a sweep of York. The Lions’ three points in the extra frame occurred courtesy of Nathan Albertini’s trey from the right side with 23 seconds remaining to cut York’s comfortable lead from 11 points to eight. The Dukes canned 7 of 9 free throws in overtime en route to their 70-62 victory.
Looking to bounce back from a loss against Glenbard West the previous night, LTHS guard Omarr Gilbert knew the Lions would have their hands full with undefeated conference leader York (21-2, 8-0).
“We didn’t have any energy [in Friday’s loss against Glenbard West], so we definitely wanted to come out with more energy,” Gilbert said “We had a chip on our shoulder since York beat us twice already this season. That was our motivation to play as hard as we could.”
Junior guard Harrison Niego led the Lions with 16 points, while Gilbert added 12 points. Cullen netted 10 points for LTHS. Senior forward Matt Mrazek and senior swingman Sam Cybulski chipped in nine points apiece.
With about a month remaining in the regular season, The Lions must shed their frustrating loss to York, particularly with several tough conference matchups left on the schedule.
“I’m just focusing on winning as many conference games as we can,” Gilbert said. “Those last two losses were tough, but we just have to bounce back as much as we can so we have a shot at winning conference.”
A back to the basics fundamentals approach coupled with plenty of intensity and energy on both ends of the floor are keys for the Lions’ success, at least in the estimation of head coach Tom Sloan.
“We have to continue to make sure that we’re fundamentally sound on both ends of the floor,” Sloan said. “Defensively, we have to make sure we work hard and stay in position. We have to bring the same effort and energy level that we did against York every night. That’s our challenge for February. We have to have that energy level every day when we show up to practice.”
LTHS girls edge Dukes in opener
Prior to the boys game, the LTHS girls team edged York 34-32 to give the Lions their second victory over York this season.
Junior guard Victoria Swift led the Lions with 12 points while senior forward Kayla Morrissey notched 10 points and sophomore forward Erin Corrigan put up six points. In the previous meeting, LTHS (13-8, 5-5 West Suburban Silver) emerged with a two-point win in overtime over the Dukes, despite the absence of key LTHS players Gaby Galassini and Shantiera Taylor.
“We knew we matched up really well with [York] the first time we played them,” LTHS head coach Paul Krick said. “We were full strength [Saturday], and so were they. We were able to offset their desire to run and increase the tempo. Our zone defense really bothers people because it’s such a neutralizer.”
The Lions led by eight points early in the third quarter Saturday before York put together an 8-0 run to tie the game at 21-21. Corrigan hit a basket from the left side to break the tie with just under two minutes to go in the third as the Lions closed the quarter clinging to a two-point advantage.
Tied at 28-28 with 3:52 left in the fourth quarter, Morrissey made a layup off an offensive rebound to put the Lions ahead for good.
“We just had to keep our composure,” Swift said. “That was the biggest thing. Just trying not to turn the ball over and trying to have really solid strong defense. I think our girls did a great job. The fouls were hard, but we kept it under control.”
The Lions have six games left in the regular season, including a rematch this week against conference rival Oak Park and River Forest.
“We’re getting excited about that game,” Swift said. “We lost to them earlier in the season. This time, we’re really excited about coming out and really taking it to them.”
Krick is pleased with his team’s development, notably the unwavering work ethic of the players.
“I love coaching the girls because they’re good kids,” Krick said. “We’re working hard and we have really good team chemistry. (LTHS assistant coach) Megan (Hutchens) is doing a great job coaching. We’re getting better; that’s the important thing.”
With the playoffs not too far away, Swift knows the Lions must execute down the stretch of their remaining games in order to be successful.
“We’ll be focusing on our fundamentals and being able to close games,” Swift said. “As you get farther and farther along, the games get more competitive. You just need to come out with confidence. It always comes down to those last few minutes where you have to have play with composure and finish games.”