LINCOLN PARK — Lincoln Park High School's Bryson Butler "does a little bit of everything" on the basketball court, his coach says.
Against Lane Tech on Dec. 16, the senior demonstrated exactly what first-year Coach Terry Mister was talking about.
Within the game's first four minutes, the 6-foot guard put up numbers in every major statistical category.
He delivered no-look assists, nabbed rebounds over taller opponents, swished a contested three and capped off a steal at half-court with a silky reverse layup.
"Bryson's a big, big part of what we're doing here," Mister said.
Butler's versatility has been key as the Lions adjust to a new up-tempo offense. The challenge right now is “learning to finish,” he said. Lincoln Park has lost several games this season after giving up leads in the final minutes. Butler believes the early-season hiccups will help the team continue to gel.
"We should be way better than we are, but it's a process. We're only going to get better as the season progresses," Butler said. "You'll see us [at the IHSA State Tournament] downstate."
It's not just Butler helping the Lions. In fact, Mister figures he has three college Division I prospects in his ranks.
Malik Jones, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, is "the heart and soul of our team," Mister said. "He's just a very intelligent player."
Jones, a scorer and nifty ballhandler, knows his team can put up points — it's stopping opponents they need to work on.
“We have to step up on defense because that's what wins games," Jones said.
Mister, who joined the team after coaching at South Loop Elementary School, also pointed to junior transfer Sam Mack as a key player for the Lions.
The 6-foot-4 forward, the son of former NBA player Sam Mack, is averaging close to 18 points a game. He helped Lincoln Park seal the game against Lane Tech, pouring in 19 points in a 67-64 win over the conference foe.
With time dwindling, the Lions had again surrendered a late lead — this one in double digits. But this time, the team managed to close out the game.
Lincoln Park weaved through a full-court press in the waning seconds and dished to Mack, who finished with a monstrous dunk to ensure the victory.
Now the Lions will continue to focus on what’s ahead.
"We're definitely making strides right now. I inherited a really talented team and I think the sky's the limit," Mister said. “It’ll be fun to see where we can go."