The Lyons Township High School boys basketball team won West Suburban Conference Silver Division titles in 2010 and 2011. LTHS coach Tom Sloan believes the Lions are capable of winning another league championship this season.
“I believe that we can really compete for the conference championship,” Sloan said. “Our kids really believe that too. It’s going to be a really tough grind for whichever team wins it. There’s really a lot of balance in the league this season.”
While reigning champion Hinsdale Central is the preseason favorite, several teams could conceivably dethrone the Red Devils including York, Oak Park and River Forest, Proviso West and LTHS.
Much of Sloan’s confidence about the Lions stems from the return of his top two perimeter players 6-2 senior guard Harrison Niego and 6-3 swingman Jaquan Phipps. Both possess plenty of experience, versatility and talent. Niego led LTHS in scoring at 15 points per game last season, while Phipps averaged seven points.
“Harrison has a tremendous amount of experience,” Sloan said. “He brings a lot of scoring and he was also second in assists last year [107 assists]. We’re looking at him as a leader for this team.
“Jaquan is a really good athlete. He’ll be tough for teams to handle out of transition and when he’s driving to the basket.”
The Lions boast several sizable reinforcements behind their top two players, including frontline contributors like 6-7 sophomore guard/forward Connor Niego, 6-4 senior forward Sean Lannan, 6-4 senior guard/forward Joe Brunner and 6-4 sophomore forward Noah Niego.
“Connor is a very smart player on the floor. He’s very skilled and he can score around the basket and along the perimeter,” Sloan said. “Sean can score a lot as well and he brings us a physical presence on the defensive end. Joe is also very physical and a great rebounder, while Noah is an inside player that can step out and play on the perimeter, too.”
6-0 senior guard Connor Rierdon and 5-9 senior guard Danny O’Malley provide depth in the backcourt. Sloan describes both guards as great ball handlers and shooters.
In addition to talent, the LTHS players are all on the same page in terms of team objectives.
“There’s really good team chemistry,” Sloan said. “The guys really like being around each other. They have a lot of fun on and off the floor because of that they play really well together as a team.”
The Lions open their season by hosting their own Thanksgiving Tournament. Stevenson, one of the top teams in the country led by Villanova-bound guard Jalen Brunson, is competing in the LTHS tournament.