Lisle honored its seniors before Friday night's final home game of the 2009-10 season. And it was only fitting that the Lions' senior class stole the show during their Interstate Eight Conference matchup against Seneca.
Ryan Liss and Marcus Wilson scored 21 and 16 points, respectively, while classmate Dallas Schnake grabbed 6 rebounds as the Lions cruised to a 52-32 victory.
The Lions took Seneca out of its offense by playing a sticky man-to-man at the outset of the contest, then successfully switched from man to zone. Seneca (8-17, 2-6) pulled to within four points early in the third quarter, but Wilson nailed a 3-pointer, then went in for a layup off a steal as the Lions opened up a 26-17 advantage.
"We played team basketball," said Wilson, who added 2 steals and 5 rebounds. "We kept the ball moving; we made them come out of their offense and we got steals. The defense stepped up."
"I thought that our defense really bothered them," added Lisle coach Mark LaScala. "Sometimes we do a lot of switching in our man-to-man defense, and it sometimes kind of throws them (opponents) off. Sometimes they might think we're in a zone when we're in a man, or they might think we're in a man when we're in a zone. They did seem a little off-balance tonight, and that worked in our favor."
Both LaScala and Liss - who had 11 of his game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter - said Friday's win was likely the Lions' best effort of the year so far.
"We played really well on defense at the beginning (of the game), and on offense we were just clicking," Liss said. "It was a really great effort. You expect it on Senior Night. You don't want to lose on Senior Night."
"I thought the whole group played with good energy, and for four quarters," LaScala said. "I think that was probably our first four-quarter game this year. The seniors took it upon themselves to show more leadership and more energy over the course of four quarters, and they earned it."
The Lions (11-15, 4-5) will try to continue to build momentum for the upcoming regionals when they visit Manteno next Friday night to wrap up the regular season. This time around, Manteno - which went into last night's action trailing Interstate Eight co-leaders Dwight and Herscher by one game - will be hosting its Senior Night, so Lisle will attempt to play spoiler.
"It's a very good Manteno team," LaScala said. "They're near the top of the conference. If we can go there and beat them on their Senior Night, then I think that would bode well for us in the regionals.
"The last month, we've played our best basketball to this point," he continued. "We haven't always recorded a victory. We had some tough losses. Herscher's a 21-1 team, and we lost to them in the last minute (51-47). But I think we've played our best basketball in the last month. It took us a while to jell and develop some chemistry, and I think we're seeing the fruits of that now."