Lane Outlasts Taft 50-40 in Chicago Elite Classic


Mara Mellits

Lane’s Sean Molloy attempts a buzzer beater at the end of the third

By Theo Gary, Managing Editor

Lane’s Boys Varsity Basketball team competed in the annual Chicago Elite Classic on Dec. 3, a tournament featuring some of the best teams in the country, with local teams such as Whitney Young and teams from out of state, like Missouri’s Vashon and D.C.’s Gonzaga at Credit Union 1 Arena.

In the star-studded Chicago Elite high school basketball showcase, it was, naturally, the respective stars of the Lane and Taft boys basketball teams who controlled the outcome of their game. Sean Molloy of Lane and Armin Aliloski of Taft shined in what was an otherwise sloppy, turnover-filled slog. Lane ultimately outlasted the Eagles 50-40, trailing only during the first quarter. 


The game started energetic but sloppy. Turnovers and missed shots created a frenetic pace which neither team could take full advantage of. However, Taft’s Gideon Adewole started hot, hitting an impressive turnaround mid-range jumper and a three in the opening stretch. Molloy picked up Lane’s offensive output, scoring on a series of midrange jumpers and drives to the basket. The first quarter ended in a 12-9 Lane lead.

In the 2nd quarter Lane established itself. Defense turned into offense as Lane forced the rapidly cooling Adewole into a series of airballs and misses, increasing its first half lead to nine. 

“We knew we could get a lead. It was just about maintaining that lead. We knew what they were going to do,” Molloy said during the postgame press conference.       

Opening the second half on a 6-2 run, Lane’s lead ballooned to 12 points, its largest of the game. 

“We knew that they’re going to come out and diamond press us after half,” Molloy said. “We’ve played them every year so we know their game. And we just had to play ours,”   

After Lane’s strong start to the second half, however, Taft settled into the game. Defensively, Taft flustered Lane with a half-court press while simultaneously establishing themselves inside with the strength and size of their front-court. Going on a 9-3 run, the Eagles cut the Lane lead to six midway through the third quarter, forcing Lane to take a necessary timeout in order to regroup and relax.

“I think we lost composure for a little bit but [when] we got to the timeout, everyone relaxed and I think we just started playing our game again,” Molloy said.   

Rebounding and second chance points were an issue for Lane all night but became especially apparent late in the game when Taft went to their big lineup of Aliloski (6’3), Adewole (6’3), Adrian Pelzynski (6’3), Mick Dempsey (6’2) and Jayden Harris (5’9). The size and strength matchup meant that Lane had trouble rebounding, keeping Taft in the game. 

“I thought we did a pretty good job neutralizing them, but they did get a lot of offensive rebounds. So we got to clean that up,“ Lane Coach Nicholas LoGalbo said postgame. 

Despite the size advantage, Taft couldn’t overcome Lane’s defensive strength. The Taft run was stopped when Lane switched to zone, trapping the ball handler and forcing Taft’s bigger, less polished passers to be more methodical. It worked, and Lane held on to win 50-40.     

“You know, we still gave up way too many rebounds,” LoGalbo said.

The game, which started as frenetic and full of manic energy, ended as a stolid defensive one. In the end, it was a defensive game played between contrasting teams. At its simplest, size vs. shooting. In the end, Lane’s shooting and newfound calm, according to LoGalbo, won out. 

“They’re trying to teach me how to relax. They helped me relax and then we were fine,” LoGalbo said.