Lane cruises to victory over Maine East, 63-30 in home finale


Mara Mellits

Maine East’s Derryl Gaddi (3) Lane’s Sean Molloy (1) reach for the ball.

By Theo Gary, Managing Editor

Lane’s Varsity Boys Basketball team had a strange week. A road loss to city runner-up Curie in the second round of city playoffs on Monday led into back-to-back home games, something you don’t usually see at the high school level. In the first game (played Feb. 2), Lane avoided a Payton upset 56-52, and in the second, Lane ripped apart an undersized and overmatched Maine East Blue Demons team 63-30. 

As the teams stepped onto the floor, the advantage was obvious — Lane had size, the Blue Demons didn’t. Playing a guard-heavy lineup anchored by their star Derryl Gaddi (who scored 20 of their 30 points), Maine East’s shooting was a problem for Lane in the first half.   

Maybe because it was Saturday, or maybe because the game started at three, Lane started lethargic. Shaheed Solebo (who finished with a team-high 18 points) came out missing. Gaddi, however, did not. Assisted by Idarious Walton he buried a three for Maine’s opening points.    

Being the smaller and less athletic team, Maine East played zone all game. But it didn’t work. After his cold start, Solebo stepped into a rhythm three off a pass from Sean Molloy. In a full court press, Molloy stole the ball and passed to Solebo for another layup. Gaddi silenced Lane’s mini-run, drilling another three.  

Lane did a poor job defending Gaddi in the first half, according to Lane’s Head Coach Nicholas LoGalbo. 

“I thought we weren’t attached early,” LoGalbo said. “When we started the game, we were just playing naturally. Our normal man-to-man, our normal coverages. But he was getting off and we were late.”

In one of the more impressive plays of the night, Anthony Zanders threw an alley-oop to Solebo, who finished off the glass. Even so, Gaddi hit a mid-range jumper to end the quarter 14-10 Lane. 

The momentum from Gaddi’s shooting carried into the second quarter. A sloppy possession ended with a Jalan Alphonse three for the Blue Demons. Then, an in-rhythm Gaddi corner three put Maine up briefly, 16-15. Trading shots, Molloy buried a mid-range jumper, and a crisp passing sequence ended in another Gaddi three. The bad start to the quarter was punctuated by an errant cross court pass to Hayden Matthews. 

With the game tied 19-19, Molloy drove down the lane and finished an acrobatic one-handed layup, and Maine East would never lead again. Lane’s defense became stifling: Maine scored only 12 points in the final two quarters. A Stephen Goonan three propelled Lane into the halftime locker room up 24-19. 

In the second half, Lane cleaned up the mistakes, holding Gaddi to only three points.

“The first half we still were a little shaky,” LoGalbo said. “But we locked in, we cut out [Gaddi], he didn’t get another shot attempt, and I thought that was the big difference.”

Opening the second half, Molloy drove baseline and passed to Goonan for an easy layup. For Lane, that’s what the rest of the game was — easy.

Maneuvering around a screen, Gaddi hit a three, his final points. In the absence of Ethan Grunebaum and Will Rosenkrantz, Matthews, usually a backup, stepped into a larger role. He played solid, scoring 12 points and, along with Solebo, defending Gaddi. According to LoGalbo, his defense was key.   

“Hayden Matthews did a great job,” LoGalbo said. “He just understood like, hey, stop jumping at everything, stay on the floor, close out, shade [Gaddi] and make sure he doesn’t get a clean look. And that was it. We cut him out — that was the difference.”

Gaddi’s other defender, Solebo, had a great offensive game as well. Whether grabbing rebounds over bigger defenders or assisting on made shots, Solebo was everywhere. 

“I feel like, no one can really stay in front of me,” Solebo said. “And just using it to our best advantage to get shots to get guys open.”

Solebo put an exclamation point on the win with a thunderous one-handed transition dunk. 

Heading into state, Lane is through their most difficult patch of the season, according to LoGalbo.

“We were really riding a wave, we were playing well, we were 15-4,” LoGalbo said. “And then we played five ranked teams in a row — we just ran this gauntlet. And I thought we competed well.”

Lane (17- 9) will close out the regular season against Mather on Wednesday, with a 6:30 p.m. tip-off on the road.