Usually one of the more entertaining and well-attended games of the season didn’t disappoint Wednesday.
Loyola and New Trier needed overtime to decide the rivalry’s outcome, and the Trevians came away with a 56-54 win in Wilmette after Ramar Evans’ last-second 3-pointer from the corner missed its mark.
Lincoln Park, Loyola and New Trier all tied for first place in their pool at 2-1. But the Ramblers won the tiebreaker by surrendering the least total points and will play Benet in the championship game of the New Trier/Loyola Thanksgiving Tournament at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Loyola.
After New Trier took a 56-51 on two free throws by senior center Teddy McGregor with 42 seconds remaining, Evans knocked down a 3-pointer on the next possession to give the Ramblers a chance. Junior guard Andrew Kirkpatrick then missed two free throws to set the stage for the Ramblers.
Loyola head coach Tom Livatino said he wished he would have called a timeout to draw up a play.
“We could have gotten a better shot,” he said.
But the loss can be traced back to early in the fourth quarter when the Ramblers failed to separate themselves from the Trevians after building a seven-point lead with 7:00 remaining.
Evans hit consecutive 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the third quarter, including one from NBA range to beat the buzzer, to put Loyola ahead 42-37. Senior forward Julian DeGuzman opened the fourth with a basket in the post to increase the lead to 44-37.
But New Trier went on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 44-all with 4:56 to go in the quarter.
“We should have kept stepping on their throat,” said Evans, a senior guard. “We should have put them away. But I don’t want to take any credit away from them. They are a good team that beat us.”
Evans scored a team-high 19 points to go with seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. He went 3-for-8 from 3-point range.
Livatino said one of the Loyola’s goals is to win games it leads in the fourth quarter.
“This is an opportunity for us to grow, and we will,” Livatino said.
Junior guard Kevin Cunningham shined in his first varsity game against New Trier, finishing with 14 points, six rebounds and three charges. He made three 3-pointers in the first quarter to help the Ramblers to an 18-14 lead.
“Kevin put us on his back early, and that was great to see,” Livatino said.
Evans added: “He stepped up big time. He handled his business. He kept us in it early and brought energy. When I saw him hitting those shots, it fired me up.”
Senior guard Matt Lynch (pictured above) had eight points, five assists and three rebounds. DeGuzman totaled eight points, four rebounds and three steals.
Photo credit: Melissa Krein