Trying to make a recent slump a distant memory, the Lyons Township boys' basketball team conquered at least one demon Saturday against West Suburban (Silver) rival Glenbard West.
The Lions shot 76.5 percent from the free-throw line and knocked down 9-of-10 in the fourth quarter to ice a 60-51 win in which four LT players scored at least a dozen points. But the Lions did let another big second-half lead evaporate with a defensive effort that coach Conte Stamas described as inconsistent.
"It's nice to have that inside-outside balance," Stamas said. "When we're successful offensively, we're doing that. But down the stretch our defense has to be better. We won by nine, but we didn't meet our goals defensively. We could play better than we did Saturday."
LT (18-4, 8-2) took a 30-22 lead into the intermission and in the third quarter led by as many as 14. But the Lions hit a lull, missing on mid-range shots as the defense let Glenbard West (12-11, 3-8) back in the game. The Hilltoppers were within 50-47 at one point in the fourth quarter.
"We were relying on jump shots," Stamas said. "The time and score didn't dictate shooting jumpers with a small lead. At that point our opponent wasn't the other team. It was the clock."
LT regrouped and didn't let Glenbard West any closer.
The Lions went back inside to draw fouls and landed at the free-throw line. Once there they shot better than their 71-percent season average.
"We finally started attacking the basket and were in the bonus situation," Stamas said. "I have confidence in our free throw shooting, and as a team we found out that if we're aggressive."
Todd Nyberg spearheaded LT's scoring effort with 16 points and Mike Scavuzzo added 15. Adam Powers and Ben Mundt scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, and Powers pulled down 12 rebounds.
The conference win kept the Lions one game in front of OPRF (13-9, 7-3) in the WSSC standings with two games left on the conference schedule. The two teams split their season series.
LT will play both of its remaining games at home, first against York (13-11, 3-7) this Friday, beginning at 7:30 p.m., and then against Downers Grove North (8-15, 4-5) the following Friday to end the regular season. The Lions will also play a non-conference game at Willowbrook (6-16) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Lions, seeded third in their sectional, also learned their first playoff opponent will be 11th-seeded Nazareth Academy (10-13). But Stamas says he doesn't want the team to think about the postseason before all of its regular-season business is finished.
"I don't look past anyone," Stamas said. "The toughest contest is the next one, so we're thinking about York this Friday."