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Cybulski turns from baseball to hoops

12/07/2012, 6:42pm CST
By George M. Wilcox gwilcox@pioneerlocal.com

Lyons’ Sam Cybulski didn’t play much basketball last summer due to baseball obligations, but is contributing to this year’s Lions hoops squad

La Grange, IL - Saturday, November 24, 2012: Lyons Township's Sam Cybulski (15) vs Fenwick's Joshua Carlisle (23) during the LT Thanksgiving Tournament. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media

Good luck to those who try to play both baseball and basketball in high school.

The two sports overlap during summer leagues, and even AAU basketball games in July for elite players cause conflicts.

Lyons’ Sam Cybulski didn’t play much basketball last summer, but is contributing to this year’s Lions hoops squad.

Cybulski scored six points in a 51-48 loss to Glenbard West Friday night in Lyons’ West Suburban Silver opener. Lyons’ Jarryd Heath missed a possible game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer.

“He had one basket taken away on a questionable charge,” coach Tom Sloan said. “Sam played some crucial minutes.”

The junior from Western Springs came through during crucial at-bats last summer.

Cybulski became one of the heroes for Lyons’ summer league championship run when he hit the walk-off single in the eighth inning that delivered a 5-4 victory over Jacobs during the semifinals.

Lyons then defeated Joliet Catholic 7-3 for the title, one month after losing in the IHSA Class 4A state final to Oak Park-River Forest.

Cybulski, a second baseman, and Matt Aikens, a starting center fielder, are the only two members of the baseball team playing for Sloan’s basketball team. Both come off the bench.

“Sam is a good defender, tough rebounder and good ballhandler,” Sloan said.

Cybulski’s first priority remains baseball, though he belongs to a select crew of recent basketball players from the baseball team that includes Spencer Mahoney, Matt Robare and Brian Kelley.

When he wasn’t playing for Lyons’ baseball summer league team, Cybulski traveled to tournaments on weekends with the Racine Hitters of Wisconsin. He found the team through his former travel coach, Jared Koutnik, with the now-defunct DuPage Dragons.

“It’s tough playing for a travel team as well,” Cybulski said. “In the summer, you make basketball practices and games at night. By the end of July, you play baseball and it’s hard to make it for basketball.”

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