Lane Tech didn’t waste any time showing they belonged in the Red North-West super-conference.
The Indians made their triumphant return to to the public leagues top division defeating the North Lawndale Phoenix 76-70 in their first Red North-West game since the creation of CPS super conferences.
Despite blowing a 22 point lead late in the third quarter the Indians showed the poise that is necessary to compete in the top end of the Public League.
Lane Tech coach Nick LoGalbo knew this was a step in the right direction: “When they made that decision for the super conference, I knew that some teams were going to be left out because they made it two leagues instead of four and we were one of those teams but that’s old news and we got ourselves back up here and we proved that tonight. We proved ourselves versus a very, very talented North Lawndale team.”
From the opening tip the Indians played aggressively versus the North Lawndale pressure and opened up a 14-2 lead three minutes into the first quarter.
The Phoenix looked sloppy in the opening frame as Lane’s senior guard Jimmy Mulvaney took advantage scoring 12 points in the quarter both on driving layups and a couple of three pointers.
Although Mulvaney did the lions share of the work he didn’t forget his teammates, “When we are getting driving lanes, when we are getting drive and kicks wide open and everybody is shooting their shot everyone is capable of hitting those shots,” said Mulvaney.
For the rest of the half Lane maintained their lead as Lane’s 6’ 6” senior Vuk Djuric scored six points in the frame to hold off any Phoenix rally and Lane finished the half with a comfortable 41-29 margin.
After the halftime break, North Lawndale looked to have turned the corner with senior guard Demetrius Douglas poised to put on a show.
Douglas took the opening possession to the basket for an easy layup and it looked as if the tides were about to turn. Unfortunately for North Lawndale, the Lane senior trio in Michael Molloy, Johnny Colombo, Mulvaney and Djuric were able to hold off North Lawndale and even extend the lead to 22 points at 55-33 with just under three minutes to go in the third quarter.
Just when it looked as if the game was all but decided, North Lawndale found the energy they were looking for all game and in a little over a minute, went on an 11-0 run eight of which came from the hand of Douglas and only trailed by 13 heading into the final frame.
The fourth quarter started at a pace that the previous three quarters did not as North Lawndale picked up the defensive pressure.
Slowly by surely, with contributions from the entire team the Phoenix chipped away at Lane’s lead. With just 1:06 to play North Lawndale’s Douglas converted on two free throws to cut the deficit to just four points at 72-68.
Thanks to a missed bonus free throw and another driving layup by Douglas, the Phoenix trailed 72-70 with just 23 seconds remaining.
Just when it looked as if Lane was going to let the game slip away, senior guard Michael Molloy was fouled by Douglas, sending him to the bench with his fifth and Molloy calmly took control of the ball and converted on both halves of a one and one. Although it seemed like pressure to most of the crowd, it wasn’t to Molloy.
“I knew we were in control of the game so I didn’t get nervous, we didn’t to put up shots we just needed to get into our offense,.” Molloy said. As for the free throws, “Sometime I just have to get my breathing right before I let it go.”
Lane showed tremendous depth and versatility as all five of their starters scored in double figures.
LoGalbo said “this is the deepest we have been, we actually have some guys off the bench who can score and defend. Some of the guys in their first league game had some jitters and that showed but they all stepped up.”
Lane was lead in scoring by by Mulvaney with 21 points and North Lawndale by Douglas with 26 points, 21 coming in the second half
Lane (5-2) will continue Red North-West action at home on Friday against Uplift at 5:00 PM, while North Lawndale (3-2) will host Marshall on Friday at 6:30 PM.