The charge is the dunk of the Loyola boys basketball team, according to head coach Tom Livatino.
It’s a momentum-shifting play that is to be celebrated.
That’s why the coaching staff conceived an idea to recognize the player who records the most charges in a game with a thick and gaudy gold necklace called the Charge Chain.
Introduced to the team this week, senior forward Patrick Russell earned the first honor after taking two charges in Friday’s 49-32 at home against St. Francis.
“It’s all about having fun, but it has a meaning and re-inforces what we want our guys doing,” Livatino said.
Russell wore the chain with pride, and he said it was a big topic of conversation leading up to Friday’s game.
“I am going to take a lot of pictures with it,” Russell said, laughing.
In only his second game and first start of the season after playing cornerback for the football team, Russell took both of his charges in the first quarter to help the Ramblers (5-1) to an early lead, one they never relinquished.
“That’s what I go out trying to do,” Russell said about drawing offensive fouls. “I’m a scrapper, do the dirty work. I take charges, rebound, set up my teammates to score.”
Russell also scored five points, going 2-for-2 from the field and 1-for-1 on free throws, and had four rebounds. With 00.6 seconds remaining in the third quarter, he converted a 3-point play and then hustled down to the other end of the floor to break up a long pass.
“He buys into what we do,” Livatino said. “He’s what we are all about.”
Sophomore forward Bennett Kwiecinski took his first charge of the season in the second quarter. The Ramblers have recorded 19 charges. Senior guard Kevin Cunningham leads with six, and senior forward Pete Mangan has five.
In Friday’s win, junior guard Connor Barrett paced the offense with 14 points, finishing 4-for-8 from 3-point range. Mangan had seven points, five rebounds, four assists and one block. Cunningham scored six points to go with five assists and four steals. Kwiecinski had six points and four rebounds.
It was the fourth time in six games the Ramblers held an opponent to 37 points or less.
“Our defense has been consistently good all season,” Livatino said. “Our offense needs to come around. We are not shooting the ball well, turning it over too much, not moving the ball quickly enough. The effort is there, but we are not executing to the level we need to. But we are confident we will turn it around.”
Loyola hosts Notre Dame on Tuesday before traveling to Chicago on Friday to play St. Rita in the opener of the Catholic Blue.
Pictured above: Senior Mike Mangan (left), senior Patrick Russell (right)
Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola