In the final Catholic League tournament — at least for the foreseeable future — Loyola had its best finish in four seasons of the event.
After losing in the first round in the first three tournaments, the Ramblers took third place after beating Catholic South champion Brother Rice 47-41 at home Friday. Fenwick, the Catholic North champion, defeated St. Joseph 65-58 in overtime at Loyola to capture its second consecutive tournament title.
“This is a great tournament, and we are sad to see it go,” Loyola head coach Tom Livatino said. “It unites the Catholic League and has great competition. It prepares you to play in the state tournament. We had four tough games, and I think all of those teams we played will win a regional title.”
Senior forward Matt Sechman scored with 2 seconds remaining in the first half to give the Ramblers (19-8) a 23-21 lead going into the locker room. They never trailed in the final two quarters.
Brother Rice (22-5) cut the deficit to two, 43-41, with 39 seconds remaining in the fourth, but senior guard Matt Lynch and Sechman combined to go 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final 12.5 seconds to close out the victory.
“I’m happy with how we’ve played,” said Livatino, whose team played four games in seven days. “There were points against Fenwick where we didn’t play well, but we fought.”
Senior guard, captain and all-Catholic League selection Ramar Evans was recognized before the game for scoring his 1,000th career point Wednesday. He said he was proud of how the Ramblers competed at the tournament.
“I was most proud of us against Fenwick, believe it or not,” Evans said. “Then [Friday], we beat a very, very good Catholic League team. We want to be prepared for the state tournament because it’s one and done. No one wants to go home. We have to have that survive and advance attitude.”
Evans led a balanced offense with 10 points. In his first game since suffering concussion-like symptoms Feb. 7 against St. Rita, senior forward and all-Catholic North pick Julian DeGuzman (pictured above) scored six points. Senior guard Jimmy Alexopoulos, Lynch and Sechman all scored six points apiece. Senior guard Kai Khasu had five points.
“To do what we did in three games without Julian was remarkable,” Livatino said. “But boy, do we need Julian. He played really well [Friday].”
Junior guard Kevin Cunningham, an all-Catholic North selection, didn’t play Friday with an undisclosed injury. Livatino said his status is unknown.
Earlier Friday, the Ramblers, the No. 4 at the Waukegan Sectional, learned they will play at the Class 4A Zion-Benton Regional. They open with either No. 13 Highland Park or No. 20 Taft on Feb. 28.
Loyola concludes its regular season at home Tuesday against Steinmetz. One more win gives Livatino his third 20-win season in eight seasons at Loyola.
RAMBLERS 41, Providence 32
RAMBLERS 39, Leo 28
Fenwick 49, RAMBLERS 37
RAMBLERS 47, Brother Rice 41 (third-place game)
Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola