Lyons’ Palmer builds his muscles in practice
La Grange, IL - Friday, December 14, 2012: Lyons' Robert Palmer (35) has his shot blocked by Downers Grove North's Myles Farley (22). | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
Boys basketball: at OPRF, 6 p.m.
Lyons (4-4, 1-2) takes on the defending conference champion Huskies (6-3, 2-0), who have won three in a row. OPRF has been led by Brooks transfer Erick Locke, who scored 23 points in his last game against Proviso West. It is the only game of the weekend for Lyons, which opens York’s Tosh Classic on Dec. 26.
Girls basketball: at St. Joseph, 2:30 p.m.
St. Joseph coach Jim Maley looks forward to this annual nonconference battle. Maley lives in the La Grange area and his daughters, Katie and Kelly, were former stars at Lyons. Lyons (6-3) won last year 51-39. Both teams are playing Friday, with St. Joseph at McNamara and Lyons hosting conference leading Hinsdale Central (7-2, 4-0).
Updated: January 21, 2013 2:38PM
WESTERN SPRINGS — Within minutes of entering the game as the sixth man Friday night against Downers Grove North, Lyons senior Robert Palmer put his stamp on the game.
The senior forward grabbed two rebounds, had an assist and scored two buckets during a short stretch of the opening period. He also was seen diving on the floor for loose balls.
When the Lions offense scuffled early, the senior forward provided an immediate spark.
“I try to keep up the energy, and if we are struggling, I try to get in there and get the guys rolling,” Palmer said. “Not necessarily by scoring, but getting in the dirty areas, playing that way. (I have the mentality that) nobody is going to stop me, that is all it is, really.”
The Lions (4-4, 1-2) solved their early shooting woes and rolled to a 69-34 West Suburban Silver victory.
Palmer, who also has played volleyball at Lyons, is comfortable with his role and understands what is expected of him when he hits the court.
“Definitely, when I get out there, it is get the ball, put it in (the guard’s hands) and get other people open,” he said. “It is what I do. I am not the scorer, I am the guy that gets other people the points.”
The 6-foot-3 forward’s hard work did not go unnoticed Friday, when the student section started to chant his name when he returned to the game before halftime, after sitting for a stretch with three fouls.
“He is one of the popular guys for the students, for sure,” said Lyons coach Tom Sloan. “Robert is a great kid. He is a stand-up kid, and he would do anything that we ask him. He represents the program well, and we are really happy with what he is doing this year.”
His teammates also realize the contribution that Palmer makes and appreciate the energy he takes to games and practices.
“He is a great guy to bring toughness into the middle and knock around the big guys, toughen them up and make sure they do not want to go in the middle anymore,” said senior guard Jarryd Heath. “He is tough on the boards, always helping us out.
“It is tough to box him out (in practice), he is always moving around and getting to the boards.”
With a rotation that includes 6-4 Matt Mrazek, 6-3 Nikola Josipovic, Palmer and 6-3 Matt Aikens, the Lions front-liners have plenty of competition in practice.
“It is always a dogfight down there, at least for us big men,” Palmer said. “We pound on each other, worse than you see out there (during games), so it makes us even tougher during games.”
Palmer’s top college choices are Dayton and Marquette, although he may also follow another career path when he decides to hang up his basketball shoes.
“I am a big fan of singing, I love to sing,” said Palmer. “I was in chorus last year, but I could not fit it in my schedule this year.”