Leo, Fred Cleveland win junior guard showdown against Uplift and Markese Jacobs

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Leo’s Fred Cleveland (2) tries to make his way to the basket against Uplift Saturday 01-27-18. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Leo’s Fred Cleveland and Uplift’s Markese Jacobs are two of the most exciting guards in the junior class. But they are polar opposites on the court.

Cleveland has some flash, but he’s all about ruthless efficiency. He’s a tremendous floor general, the catalyst for everything his team does offensively. Cleveland has been overlooked by colleges, he recently picked up an offer from Chicago State.

Jacobs is a Kansas recruit. His game is high-flying and muscular. He threw down a windmill dunk in the third quarter that displayed power and quickness rarely seen in high school basketball.

Leo and Uplift both have lofty goals for the Class 2A playoffs this season but right now the Lions are clearly a few steps ahead of the Titans. Leo won 65-56 in the Breast Cancer Shootout at Orr on Saturday.

Cleveland scored 16 points and dished off six assists. Leo’s Anderson brothers, DaChaun and Kendale Anderson, continued to show they are two of the area’s best rebounders.

DaChaun Anderson had 19 points and 12 boards and Kendale added 12 points and 10 rebounds. They had a significant challenge too, facing Uplift’s Toraze Dobbs, a fierce rebounder. Dobbs, who has 14 double-doubles this season, finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.

“Not too many compare with [Dobbs],” DaChaun Anderson said. “I bruise up some other guys but he is tough in the paint.”

Uplift jumped out to to a 23-10 lead early in the second quarter. Most of that was without Jacobs, who is still sitting out the entire first quarter and the beginning of the third quarter of most games for disciplinary reasons.

“It’s hard when nothing is going right for you and everything is going right for them,” Cleveland said. “You have to keep you confidence up, that’s the main thing. And get stops.”

Leo (15-5) fought back throughout the third quarter and finally tied the game up on a three-pointer from senior Malcolm Bell with seven minutes left in the game.

Bell is a 6-5 wing that occasionally shows flashes of big-time potential. That three ignited a 9-0 run that put Leo ahead 50-44. Bell scored nine points in the fourth quarter and finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.

“That’s Malcolm,” Leo coach Shawn Frison said. “He’s a senior that is coming into his own. He’s learning how to win. The whole team is learning that in big moments and big situations.”

Jacobs cut Leo’s lead to three on a three-pointer with 2:37 to play, but that was as close at the Titans (14-8) would get.

Jacobs finished with 14 points, he was 4-for-16 from the field. Senior Mahari Erving led Uplift with 15 points, he made four three-pointers in the first quarter.

Cleveland relished the opportunity to matchup against a highly-regarded college prospect like Jacobs.

“Absolutely that was important to me,” Cleveland said. “I’ve been doubted all my life. I wanted to show I could do it against a top player.”

Uplift and Leo could possibly meet again in the Class 2A Joliet Central supersectional. Both teams are heavy underdogs to Orr, which is also in that super.

“We don’t plan on losing,” Frison said. “Orr has lost this year too. If we come in and play our game we can play with anybody.”

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