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Boys basketball enters ‘super conference’

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Boys basketball enters ‘super conference’

Lane’s post game hand shake with Jones after a 73-62 home opener win.

Lane’s post game hand shake with Jones after a 73-62 home opener win.

Khalem Caldwell

Lane’s post game hand shake with Jones after a 73-62 home opener win.

Khalem Caldwell

Khalem Caldwell

Lane’s post game hand shake with Jones after a 73-62 home opener win.

By Khalem Caldwell, Sports Editor

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Lane boys basketball enters their first year in the Red North-West conference, after being promoted from the White division. With all the talent within the Chicagoland area, two “super conferences” were made in the Red division, containing the best teams in Chicago Public Schools.

CPS has three teams ranked in the top 100 nationally, according to MaxPreps.

CPS also has 4 high school basketball players ranked nationally in the top 100 high school players, in their respective classes, according to 24/7 Sports.

This season the Red North-West features Lane Tech, Uplift, Lincoln Park, Whitney Young, Prosser, Marshall, Farragut, Orr and Crane.

This season, two divisions have been added to the CPS basketball league — White and Blue — which are split into four conferences each.

Last year, Lane posted their first winning season in over five years with a 21-7 record, going undefeated in conference play, under veteran Head Coach Nicholas Logalbo.

The team relied heavy on their seniors to provide offense last year, with two of the top three scorers that season being graduating seniors — Calvin Keyes and Zach Krysztopik. However, the team was filled with underclassmen waiting for their chance to make some noise.

Now, seniors Johnny Colombo, Div. 950, Vuk Djuric, Div. 974, and Michael Molloy, Div. 981,  make up the gritty core that is on the rise in the Red division. Those three combined led the 2017-2018 varsity team in every major statistical category except blocks, points, rebounds, assists, and steals as juniors.

“They’re invaluable!” Logalbo said. “Those three guys [Djuric, Colombo, and Molloy], have been in war for us, for three years, and they understand our calls, our language, our culture, and it speaks volumes to who we are.”

The Indians opened the 2018-19 season with a 73-62 home win against Jones College Prep at the annual Battle of the Bridge Thanksgiving Tournament, hosted at Lane and Depaul College Prep.

Lane went undefeated in pool play, beating Urban Prep-Bronzeville, 61-47, and Niles North, 57-56. The team came up short in the championship game, losing 45-38 to Depaul.

Molloy took home All-Tournament honors, averaging 11 points and helping the team to a second place finish. Newcomer Louis Perona, Div. 068, made his way into an all-senior starting lineup after only the first game in the tournament.

In return, Perona had multiple double digit scoring performances, including a career high 18 points in the game against Niles North. Several points came off clutch free throws to ice the game, and Perona has been a starter ever since.

According to Perona, even though he’s playing with four seniors in the starting lineup, they give him lots of confidence and always encourage him to keep shooting his shots.

Coming off a semi-successful tournament, Lane had two non-conference games. A 59-48 away loss to Addison Trail and a 70-23 blowout home victory against Northside College Prep brought their record to 4-2 as of Nov. 30 as they headed into their conference schedule.

According to Djuric, the early season wins don’t change anything. The team will continue taking each game day by day.

The team started off their conference schedule with two quick wins against North Lawndale, 76-70 and Uplift, 56-50.

Against North Lawndale, guard Jimmy Mulvaney, Div. 951, achieved a career high 22 points to go along with two steals.

Lane vs. Uplift was a highly anticipated matchup. The Uplift Titans posted a 6-3 conference record last year, earning them the fourth spot in the Red North-West. Titan senior Markese Jacobs is amongst the best players in CPS being a four-star recruit and ranked.

Coming into the Dec. 7 game, Jacobs already had two 30-point-plus performances during the season. Lane’s defense harped on Jacobs all game long, holding him to just 10 points. Perona had a career high six blocks, all coming in the fourth quarter, to add to Lane’s defensive efforts.

After the game, Lane’s enthusiastic student section stormed the court for the first time in four years.

“Unbelievable!” Colombo said. “Last time I stormed the court was when I was a freshman with my brother — they won on senior night, and now I have to do it my senior year.”

Unfortunately for Lane, they would falter in the next two games, losing on Dec.12 to Marshall, 62-60, in an overtime thriller and again on Dec.14, against Farragut, 60-58.

Despite the upsetting loss to Farragut, Molloy had 4 steals and dropped a career- and team-high 26 points, going on a 14-0 run himself, and leading Lane back from a 12-point deficit at one point.

The boys basketball team is known for being a family. They display the word on their gear, and can be heard roaring it from a team breakdown. The team’s bond is a huge part of the team’s chemistry and overall success.

“There are ten seniors on the team” Mulvaney said. “We’re all really accepting of each other, and we put each other ahead of ourselves, which makes us a family.”

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About the Contributor
Khalem Caldwell, Sports Editor

Khalem Caldwell, a Lane Tech senior, is currently in his second year of journalism as a sports editor. He originally joined journalism because of his passion...

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Boys basketball enters ‘super conference’