Loyola head coach Tom Livatino said the Ramblers will enter the Catholic League tournament refreshed and ready to go.

They open with Providence Catholic at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Montini. Loyola (16-7) finished tied for second in the Catholic North, while the Celtics (11-12) ended up tied for fifth in the Catholic South. The winner advances to play at 2:30 p.m. Sunday against either St. Francis or Leo at Fenwick.

“I thought we were a little sluggish going into the St. Rita game, and we played like it,” Livatino said of the 50-49 loss to the Mustangs at home Tuesday. “We gave the guys the next day off, and we had one of our best practices all year Thursday. Sometimes, you need days out of the gym. We have another grinder of a schedule coming up, and we want to be completely fresh for the Providence game. We want to do everything we possibly can to prepare our players to execute and play at a high level.”

Providence is playing well at the right time, having won eight of its last nine games.

“They are similar in style to us,” Livatino said. “They have good players who play hard. They shoot it well and play physically tough. It’s a good matchup for us.”

Livatino said if the Ramblers execute what they do best, he likes his chances at the tournament.

“It always comes back to us taking care of ourselves first,” he said. “We have to play with great energy and effort and follow the plan we lay out. If we play our brand of basketball, we will be a tough out.”

This is the last season of the league tournament after a four-year run. Livatino, who was among those instrumental in getting the tournament started, said he’s “sad” to see it end.

“It’s something we fought to get, and I thought it kept getting better every year,” he said. “I know the kids love it, and it’s great preparation for the state tournament.”

For the 2017-18 season, the Catholic League will have two divisions of nine teams. The top division will feature the nine best teams, regardless of geography. There will be eight division games and three sanctioned crossover games.

“There are 18 teams in our conference, and they all make decisions with their best interests in mind,” Livatino said.

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FIRST ROUND SCHEDULE

(in bracket order)

Saturday

at Montini

St. Francis de Sales/Montini vs. Fenwick, 1

Bishop McNamara vs. De La Salle, 2:30

St. Francis vs. Leo, 4

Loyola vs. Providence, 5:30

at St. Joseph

Providence-St. Mel/Marmion vs. Brother Rice, 1

St. Ignatius vs. St. Laurence, 2:30

Mount Carmel vs. DePaul Pep, 4

St. Rita vs. St. Joseph, 5:30

Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola