After thinking about the question for a few seconds, Ramar Evans (pictured above) said there was no way he was going to miss Friday’s Class 4A regional final against New Trier at Zion-Benton.
Not only did Evans start, he finished. The senior guard and captain scored nine of his team-best 15 points in the fourth quarter to carry fourth-seeded Loyola to a 43-40 win over the Trevians. A three-year starter, it was Evans’ first regional title and the program’s first since 2014.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Evans said. “I’m shocked, and I’m grateful. This is my favorite team, and I’m glad I got to do this with these guys.”
Loyola plays top-seeded Evanston (26-3) on Tuesday in the sectional semifinals at Waukegan. The Wildkits earned their regional title with a 59-42 win over Deerfield at Niles West.
Evans suffered an iliac contusion — commonly referred to as a hip pointer — in the third quarter of Tuesday’s win over Highland Park. He said he started feeling better Thursday and an application of icy hot got him good to go Friday.
“I was going to fight through it,” Evans said. “If it hurt, it hurt. It would have hurt worse to lose.”
Evans did his best work in the fourth quarter. His 3-pointer at 4:55 mark put the Ramblers (22-8) ahead for good at 36-35. After a lengthy possession that took more than two minutes off the clock, Evans made a left-handed layup over New Trier’s 6-foot-9 Ciaran Brayboy for a 38-35 lead with 1:55 remaining.
“Ramar is a second-half scorer,” Loyola head coach Tom Livatino said. “He feels the game out, and he wants to get others involved. He made some big shots.”
Senior guard Matt Lynch assisted senior forward Julian DeGuzman’s basket that gave Loyola a 40-35 lead with 1:27 to go, but the Ramblers had trouble closing out the game. They went 3-for-8 from the free throw line in the final 53.8 seconds. They were 6-for-17 for the game.
New Trier (15-14) got within three twice in the final 18.3 seconds, and junior guard Andrew Kirkpatrick took a long, contested 3-pointer from the wing that bounced off the backside of the rim at the buzzer.
“This was fun to be a part of,” Livatino said.
The win avenged a 56-54 overtime loss to the Trevians on Nov. 23 in Wilmette. This was the third time since the 2013-14 season that the Ramblers have handed New Trier a season-ending defeat.
In addition to his 15 points, Evans had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. DeGuzman had 11 points and three rebounds. Junior guard Kevin Cunningham scored all seven of his points in the first half to help the Ramblers to a 25-19 lead at intermission. Senior forward Matt Sechman finished with four points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Lynch contributed two points, two rebounds and three assists.
In the other sectional semifinal at Waukegan, second-seeded Notre Dame (25-5) plays sixth-seeded Waukegan (20-8) on Wednesday. The regional final is Friday.
Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola