Lane’s players had a rather subdued celebration after overcoming a 17-point first half deficit to beat host Schurz 65-50 on Wednesday. The uncertainty about what they had accomplished was understandable.
The win gives the Indians the White-North conference title. In almost every other season of Public League basketball history winning a lower division conference would mean promotion to the Red.
That kind of clarity doesn’t exist anymore. Lane coach Nick LoGalbo doesn’t know if winning the White-North will give his team a spot in the Red-North/West next season.
“I wish [CPS] would give us an answer,” LoGalbo said. “The super-conference was a good idea but it could have been executed better. There is merit for it. We want our shot at it, just like everyone else. Whatever they decide is outside my control. We will see what happens.”
Schurz, which was denied entry to the Red-North/West after winning the White-North last season, opened the game red-hot and led 20-3.
“We didn’t come ready to play,” Lane junior Vuk Djuric said. “We weren’t playing our type of defense and we were turning the ball over.”
Lane’s Zachary Krysztopik said it took the Indians a while to adjust to Schurz’s unique court. All of the built-in stands are above the baskets.
“Definitely the gym was a factor,” Krysztopik said. “The rims, our perception was off. Also their athleticism was something we haven’t seen a ton of this season. After the first quarter it showed, we got used to their athleticism and were able to run our own stuff.”
Lane’s Michael Molloy closed the third quarter with a rushed, off-balance buzzer-beating three-pointer that gave Lane (16-5, 8-0 White-North) the lead for the first time at 45-42.
“[Molloy] is a warrior,” LoGalbo said. “He came up and made a big play for us. And then he hit all those free throws down the stretch.”
Molloy finished with 12 points. He also held Schurz sophomore Nakyel Shelton scoreless in the second half. Shelton drained 3 of 3 three-pointers in the first half and scored 11 points.
“We led [Shelton] get loose early,” LoGalbo said. “We made the adjustments, stopped letting them get out in transition because that is where they thrive.”
James Mulvaney led Lane with 16 points off the bench. Djuric scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Calvin Keyes added 11 points and 11 rebounds. Krysztopik scored 10.
“We hit two threes in the first half and the others were all air balls,” LoGalbo said. “We’ve been averaging 10-12 threes per game. We just weren’t locked in, we didn’t feel the gym. We just had to get a feeling for where we were.”
Senior Jaland Mitchell led Schurz (12-5, 6-3) with 14 points and seven rebounds. Elijah Clay added 11 points and Mateo Watson had eight points and 10 rebounds.
“We finally have an older group,” LoGalbo said. “We just talk about staying in the moment, staying present, locking in on the defensive end. That is where our energy is going to come from.”