There was a moment in the first half when Shaheed Solebo leaped into the air a solid foot higher than the other nine players on the court, he was above the rim and looked ready to stylishly drop the ball into the basket.
That didn’t go well. The shot rimmed out from point-blank range. But the startling image of Lane’s 6-5 junior guard athletically outclassing everyone on the court was impossible to miss.
“He’s the most talented player I’ve coached at Lane,” said Champions coach Nick LoGalbo, who has been at the helm of the North Side school for 15 years. “He’s beginning to understand that its not just what you do between the lines. It’s what you are as a leader and how you bring the guys together. Tonight he did that.”
Solebo helped lead a fourth-quarter charge that gave Lane a 51-46 win against Taft in the first game of the Chicago Elite Classic on Friday at Credit Union One Arena.
The Champions have regularly featured on the first night, which serves as an undercard before the main event on Saturday. Solebo is good enough to turn Lane into a Saturday team next year, especially if 6-6 sophomore Dalton Scantlebury continues to improve.
Solebo finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Scantlebury had 15 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.[Scantlebury] has good timing and length,” LoGalbo said. “He’s been wonderful for us and really impacted the game on both sides of the floor. Tonight he took a big step offensively.”
Taft (3-3) led by seven at halftime and four after three quarters. The Champions (4-2) stepped up defensively early in the fourth quarter and held Taft scoreless for the first three minutes.
“Those defensive stops turned into big energy plays for us,” Solebo said. “And once we started looking for other guys it opened things up offensively and got a lot easier.”
Junior Parker Williams added 13 points for Lane.
“We’ve been up and down because we are young,” LoGalbo said. “We are figuring out how to win games and playing off one another and building chemistry. We knew Taft was going to come out with a chimp on their shoulder because this is a rivalry game.”
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times
Junior Lyle Scibor led Taft with 17 points and seven rebounds and senior Armin Aliloski added eight points and 13 rebounds. Junior Frank Paszkowski scored 10.
“Our boys are playing extremely hard,” Eagles coach Andre Harris said. “We just got some of our football players back last week and we are still jelling. Lane is a tough team but I think we played well.”
The shootout features a shot clock, which is a first for a Chicago high school basketball event. However, the floor at UIC doesn’t have a high school three-point line. The CEC has been held at UIC several times and there has always been a high school three-point line in the past.
“Well, we showed up and asked where it was but it just wasn’t there,” Harris said. “There wasn’t much you could do about it.”
Lane’s players said they barely noticed. Taft had three-point shooters setting up in the corner on several offensive sets and the player was camped out at the college three-point line. The Eagles made three threes and Lane made four.
“It was certainly a unique one, playing with a shot clock and a college three line,” LoGalbo said.
Watch the final minute of Lane vs. Taft: