New coach, same result
Cleveland Jr. scores 13 as Leo beats Loyola in first game under new coach Thompson
Leo’s Fred Cleveland Jr. just wanted to play a basketball game.
The senior guard couldn’t wait to get back on the court under new coach Jamal Thompson after a tumultuous week that saw Shawn Frison dismissed as head coach following an altercation with Fred Sr., Cleveland’s dad and an assistant coach.
“The main thing for us was to keep our focus,” Cleveland Jr. said. “We’re still focused on being one of the top teams in the state and winning a state title, and that’s what matters to us.
“We expect to win every game, no matter who the coach is or if there’s no coach. Coach Thompson is a Leo alum, and we welcomed him into the family with open arms.”
The Lions made Thompson’s debut a success Friday night, topping host Loyola 54-48 in a Catholic League crossover.
Junior guard Kevin Drumgoole led Leo (4-1, 1-0 Catholic White) with 17 points. Cleveland added 13, while DeChaun Anderson finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Bennett Kwiecinski scored 16 points for Loyola (3-2, 0-1 Catholic Blue).
Thompson, who previously was an assistant coach at Quincy University, Bremen and Seton, was named Wednesday as the Lions’ coach.
Hewas impressed with how his players handled the transition and were prepared for a game just two days later.
“I told the guys that we have to be tough, no matter what the situation is,” he said. “They had that mental toughness and they were ready. I’m confident in these guys no matter what. They’re a great team.
“It feels good to get this first win.”
Drumgoole credited Thomp--
son for making the correct halftime adjustments. Leowent on a 15-0 run early in the third quarter to go up 34-22 and then led the rest of theway.
“Coach fixed some things with our defense,” Drumgoole said. “We just went out on the floor and did what he told us and then we got some buckets. Coach did a great job.”
Drumgoole got the Lions going with eight points in the first quarter, knocking downa pair of 3-pointers.
“After the week we’ve had, we wanted to go out and play well from the start,” he said. “(Loyola) was focusing on stopping Fred, doubling him, so I got some open shots and I had to knock them down.”
Thompson and the Lions are ready to move forward.
“A new era of Leo basketball started (Friday),” he said.
Steve Millar is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.
Leo coach Jamal Thompson gives instructions at Loyola during the game Friday.
Leo’s DorianWoods, right, cuts off Loyola’s Ryan Evans during the game Friday.