By Steve Metsch
When a player scores 10 points in the first quarter of a basketball game, he tends to draw attention from the competition.
Sandburg senior guard Atharva Atreya scored the Eagles’ first seven points of the teams’ first-round matchup, and from that point on drew plenty of attention from Lyons. He drew so much attention, he was held scoreless for the rest of the game as Lyons rolled to a 64-45 victory in first-round action at the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic.
The 46th incarnation of the tournament was held the three days following Christmas and into this week at York.
“Shots just weren’t falling in. I think the second half, we had a lid on the rim for everyone, not just me,” Atreya said.
That was the plan, said Lyons coach Tom Sloan said.
“We changed our coverage on [Atreya],” Sloan added. “Basically, said we’re going to try everything we can to make sure he doesn’t catch the ball and doesn’t get any good looks at the basket. I think the guys did a good job of that the rest of the game.
“We wanted to make somebody else beat us and, fortunately, we were able to pull it out.”
Sandburg’s Jordan Phillips scored 10 points, but no other Eagle scored more than six.
Niego led all scorers with 19. That didn’t surprise Sandburg coach Todd Allen.
“One of the many Niegos,” Allen said. “I’ve coached against Niegos for the past 15 years … But, yeah, he’s a good player. Going in, we knew he’s their best player. He can get to the rim and we’re a little undersized, so we struggled guarding him one-on-one.”
Lyons outrebounded Sandburg 37-23.
Sloan was happy to see nine players score for Lyons.
“We had really nice balance,” he said. “That’s what we’ve been lacking recently. We haven’t been putting the ball in the basket. We’ve been shooting a low percentage. So, hopefully, this is a good sign for us.”
Lyons shot 48 percent from the field, including 52.8 percent on 2-point field goals. The defense – with Stefan Vasic and Michael Niedermeyer guarding Atreya – held Sandburg to 28.6 percent from the field. It was Vasic’s first game in three weeks after an ankle injury.
The game was tied 13-13 after the first quarter, but the Lions outscored the Eagles 18-5 in the second quarter to take 31-18 halftime lead.
“We lost the game in the second quarter,” Atreya said. “They put on a huge run. That slowed down not only my momentum, but the team’s momentum as a whole.”
Lyons stormed to a 48-29 lead by outscoring Sandburg 17-11 in the third quarter, with six players finding the net.
Allen said his team’s poor shooting and Lyons’ defense were the difference.
“We just didn’t shoot the ball well,” he added. “We lost the game in the second quarter. We didn’t score on our last 12 possessions in the second quarter. First quarter, we were fine. That 18-5 second quarter kind of did us in. We never recovered from that.”
Allen noted that after losing its opening round game at the tournament last season, the Eagles won four straight games to earn the consolation champ.
Lions drub Vikings
In a high-flying affair on Dec. 27, Lyons defeated St. Laurence, 83-51, in the second round of the tourney.
Niego led Lyons with 23 points, Josh Heath had 19 and Ben Engels and Stefan Vasic each scored nine.
Finn Walsh led St. Laurence with 15 points, mostly driving the lane. Darius Wilson and Trey Davis scored 11 each.
Lyons took a commanding 28-7 lead in the first quarter and went into the second quarter up 30-14.
“We came out hot,” Niego said. “We wanted to jump on them from the beginning because we knew their style of play was real run-and-gun. We felt if we got a little lead they’d break apart, and they did.”
Lions senior guard Michael Niedermeyer, wo had an ice pack on his bruised right palm, said the team’s defense has been consistent all season. They held the Vikings to 38 percent shooting, while they sizzled at 46.3 percent.
“We didn’t write ‘run-and-gun’ on the chalkboard, but we said we wanted to take advantage of opportunities in transition if they were there,” Sloan said.
Despite a 48-29 halftime lead, Sloan cautioned the Lions to not get too comfortable.
“Last year in the third-place game (at York), we were up by 15 or 16 in the first half, and St. Laurence wound up beating us by 20,” Sloan said. “We knew we had to continue to play hard (in the second half).”
Lyons did, outscoring St. Laurence 35-22 in the second half.