Hot start, cold finish lead Lanes to 57-38 loss vs Whitney


Mara Mellits

Whitney’s Marcus Overstreet (33) reaching for the basket

By Theo Gary, Managing Editor

The length of the Lane gym could just barely separate the Lane students dressed in white and the Whitney students in black on Wednesday. Taunts and jeers exploded for every miss, make, steal or shot. But Lane, even with home-court advantage, lost 57-38 anyway, talent overcoming energy in the Jan. 26 contest.

Lane played out of their minds, on both ends of the floor, in the first quarter. A Sean Molloy steal from Whitney’s AJ Casey, a consensus four-star recruit who signed with the Miami Hurricanes, ignited an anxious crowd. Several possessions later, Shaheed Solebo hit a three and the roof came off the building. Solebo and Molloy would finish with 32 of Lane’s 38 points.

“Coach [Tyrone] Slaughter of Whitney Young was saying this is his favorite game of the year,” Lane’s Head Coach Nicholas LoGalbo said postgame. “We knew Whitney was going to bring a little crowd — our fans got behind us.” 

Whitney’s guard Dalen Davis answered with a driving layup, but at this point the energy, and the extreme noise, was on Lane’s side. Lane’s Lucas Basile blocked a Whitney shot and later Stephen Goonan followed his own miss for a putback layup. Despite Whitney’s size, Lane controlled the paint for much of the first quarter, something Molloy said was a key to the quick start.

“We had a couple times where we got rebounds and blocks right underneath the basket,” Molloy said postgame. “I think that took them out of their game and got them in their own heads.”   

The Lane momentum continued when Solebo, who finished with 17, hit a step-back three. Lane then got a steal and Solebo converted a layup.  

LoGalbo was pleased with his team’s start.

“Early on, we executed our game plan, got the shots we’re looking for. Hit our shots. Got to make threes to beat a team like that. Defended well, rebounded well,” he said. 

The momentum turned to Whitney late in the first quarter when Davis drove on Basile for a layup. Molloy hit a three but it was too late — Whitney was punishing. Kanye Smith and Marcus Overstreet, Whitneys wings, took over. Smith made a layup following a smooth Davis assist and Overstreet swatted away Basille’s inside shot. To end the quarter Smith stripped Lane’s Jack Tzur and Overstreet finished the fast break, making the score 13-8.

Despite Whitney’s strong end to the quarter, Lane’s defense was stout, holding Casey and Davis to six and twelve points, respectively, the whole game. 

“We took some of the best players in the state out of what they wanted to do. They had to sub in a lot of kids that normally don’t play because we’re locking down on defense, and then we’re just executing on offense,” Molloy said.

As the second quarter wore on, you could see Whitney grinding Lane down. Lane went into a semi-effective zone. Yet, it was Whitney’s defense that stepped up in a big way. Solebo, the primary ball handler due to an injury to starting point guard Ethan Grunebaum, was stripped and the steal converted into a Davis trip to the line.   

Guard Joseph Perona assisted on a Molloy three for what would be Lane’s last field goal of the quarter. An 11-1 Whitney run highlighted by a Matthew Sommerville step-back-three and Casey fast break dunk put Whitney up 23-22 at the break.   

“We knew what they were gonna do,” Molloy said. “We knew how they’re gonna play, and we held our own in the first half. But we let it slip away.”

Whitney continued their end-of-half run into the third quarter. They played a press, and stymied anything Lane attempted offensively. The run, highlighted by another Casey fast break dunk, came off sloppy Lane turnovers and misses from Solebo and Molloy.

LoGalbo called attention to his team’s third quarter struggles.

“We got clean looks, we didn’t make them,” LoGalbo said. “And then little things that normally, you know — it’s energy, we missed some free throws, we missed some gimmies, and they turned that into breakouts and some layups and the lead extended.”

Lane ended the quarter somewhat less disastrously with a Molloy driving layup and block on Casey. Even so, a Kanye Smith transition dunk capped Whitney’s dominant quarter with Lane down 18 points, 45-27.  

Even if the game wasn’t close in the second half, players and coaches brought the same intensity as in the first half. When Whitney’s Coach Slaughter was T’d up by the ref, Molloy stepped to the line, hitting two of two free throws and starting a mini Lane run. Molloy’s deep three sparked Solebo, who stepped up and hit one of his own to cut the lead to 14. With momentum suddenly on their side, Solebo stole the ball and passed it to Will Rosenkrantz, who stepped up and missed, ending the comeback hopes.  

Still, LoGalbo was pleased with the fourth quarter performance.

“We then had a little life in the fourth quarter,” LoGalbo said. “Got back into [it] a little bit, hit a couple of shots, but ultimately, obviously, they pulled away.

Whitney’s Summerville jammed in a punctuating baseline dunk in the final minutes to cap a 57-38 Whitney win. 

Looking forward, LoGalbo is happy with his team’s chances in city playoffs.

“You know that was our last conference game,” he said. “We know our league’s a bear. The Public League, the teams in our league – Clark or Whitney Young – have all been ranked in the top 25 this year. Tonight Whitney got away from us a little bit, but all three of those games we [were] in it, we had our moments. And that’s a big positive heading into city and state playoffs.”