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By: Eric Van Dril | Dec. 28, 2016
Urban Prep-Englewood came up just short in its bid to upset Marian Catholic at the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic on Tuesday, but the Lions never stopped playing fearlessly.
That trait was on display all game long.
In the first quarter, the underdogs stormed out to a 15-6 lead. The Lions played a free-flowing, up-and-down style. The Spartans rallied and went into halftime ahead 31-27.
Throughout Urban Prep-Englewood’s 65-64 loss, senior guard Davonte Williams attacked the much-bigger Spartans. He finished with a team-best 21 points.
“That’s my go-to man,” Cleveland said, of Williams. “He was hurt (with a sprained a left knee) … when we took the loss to Dunbar and Perspectives. I don’t lose those games with him. The bus doesn’t leave if he’s not here. You saw him — defensively, offensively, the same demeanor.”
Cleveland added: “That’s the rock of this team. When he wasn’t around, the team was at a little lull. He means a lot to this team.”
Several of Urban Prep-Englewood’s other players played just like Williams in the game’s biggest moments.
Marian Catholic was ahead 57-52 with 4:40 remaining, for example, and the Lions called a timeout. The Spartans (7-4) appeared to be on the verge of putting the game away. But after the timeout, sophomore Fred Cleveland II caught the ball and, despite air balling a pair of 3-pointers earlier in the game, knocked down a triple.
“Fred is a second-half player,” Fred Cleveland, his father, said. “He prides himself on that.”
Junior Jayden Gasby (nine points, six rebounds) didn’t have his best game against Marian Catholic, but he followed Fred Cleveland II’s 3-pointer with a pretty spin move and a score to tie the game 57-57. Gasby then hit a free throw to put the Lions (7-3) ahead by one.
Marian Catholic scored two-straight buckets, and Urban Prep-Englewood called a timeout. The Lions diagrammed an offensive set out of the timeout, but senior guard Jehru Towels took a quick 3 near the top of the arc very early in the set.
As the ball was in the air, an Urban Prep-Englewood player shouted, “Damn, Jehru!” but Towels’ shot went in to tie the game.
Marian Catholic then got a lay-up in transition off of a pretty pass by junior point guard Chase Adams (23 points, seven assists, four blocks), but Fred Cleveland II hit a 3-pointer from the corner with under 20 seconds remaining.
Adams answered by driving to the hoop and getting a very tough reverse lay-in to spin in.
The Lions couldn’t hit a basket on the other end, and Marian Catholic survived their upset bid.
“On the defensive side, they did everything they asked them to do,” Fred Cleveland said. “It was just a lack of execution down the stretch. Guys have just got to be settled. … For the most part, I’m proud of the guys because (Marian Catholic is a) Super 25 team. They played tough. We’re fighting for respect. We’ve beaten some good teams from St. Louis or whatever and I wanted this game for them — just so they have that sense of, ‘We’re here.’ Hopefully, this is a point (in the season) where it stings, so the next time, we’re going to take our time and we’re going to execute. Like I told them, ‘We’re fighting to get to the Red (South).’ It’s non-conference, but these are the games that you want because these are the games that are going to put you out there. Next year, when we’re going to the Red, we’re going to have games like this every night. We’re going to play against (this type of) competition every night. There are no nights off.”
The Lions’ long-term goal is to get to the Red-South, as The Public League wrote in a story earlier this season. Fred Cleveland hopes the Lions’ final three games of the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic helps propel them toward accomplishing that goal.
“We want to win all three, and take it right on into conference and win conference,” he said.
Junior center Jace Lee played very well against Marian Catholic’s big front line. He finished with seven points and 12 rebounds on Dec. 27. Towels scored six points. Senior guard Tyriq White had five points and three rebounds off of the bench.
Urban Prep-Englewood fell 62-50 to St. Charles East on Wednesday morning. Fred Cleveland II had 15 points. Gasby had 16 points and 10 rebounds. The whole box score can be found here.