The Lyons Township High School boys basketball team continues gaining confidence and believers.
The Lions reached the championship game of York’s Jack Tosh Classic before losing to top-seeded and undefeated Glenbard West 60-28 Friday afternoon.
The Lions (11-3) also extended their winning streak to eight straight before losing for the second time this season to Glenbard West (14-0), which boasts four NCAA Division I recruits.
LTHS seniors Tavari Johnson and Billy Bach and junior Nik Polonowski were named to the 20-player all-tournament team.
“The guys played very good defense and moved the ball very well and shot really well,” LTHS coach Tom Sloan said. “It was an overall team effort on both ends of the floor. It was fun to watch and hopefully an encouraging sign of what’s coming down the road.”
This is the first time the Lions reached the Tosh Classic final since the field expanded to 32 teams and its first finals appearance since losing the 2010 championship game to Downers Grove South in overtime after winning the 2009 title.
The Lions defeated Bolingbrook 73-61 in the Dec. 30 semifinals after especially impressive defensive efforts in beating Sandburg 64-24 on Dec. 29, Conant 55-18 on Dec. 28 and Wheaton North 67-34 on Dec. 27.
Johnson (73 combined points, 17 rebounds, 22 assists) and Polonowski (53 points with 9 threes, 15 rebounds) each had four double-digit scoring games and Bach (48 points with 6 threes, 13 rebounds) had three.
Aidan Sullivan (22 rebounds), Graham Smith (26 points), Jackson Niego, Elliot Russell and Carter Reid also were big contributors throughout the five tournament games.
Johnson had 28 points against Bolingbrook, hitting 11 of 17 shots and 13 of 20 free throws to lead Lions, who were 29 for 46 from the line.
In the final, Polonowski had 11 points with two threes as the Lions trailed Glenbard West 24-5 after the first quarter. LTHS also lost at Glenbard West 71-34 on Dec. 3.
In the Lions’ first three victories, they limited their opponents to 12, 14 and 19 first-half points, respectively.
The Lions also outscored Sandburg 16-0 in the third quarter to extend their lead to 56-19. After LTHS led Conant 27-14 at halftime, the Cougars had just four second-half points, all on free throws.
“In the first half of those [three] games, we played more man-to-man [defense] and in the second halves we played kind of a mix [with zone],” Sloan said. “We shot close to 50 percent for the tournament [119 for 248 with 27 threes] and held opponents to 31 percent shooting [68 for 223 with 28 threes].”