Loyola did exactly what it set out to do Tuesday at Trinity.
The Ramblers got up big early, rested their regulars in the second half and advanced to Class 4A regional final with a 60-29 win over Leyden. Loyola (20-10) plays the host Blazers on Thursday.
“We always focus on getting off to a good start,” Loyola senior Madison Kane said. “We really want to push hard those first few minutes to get control of the game. It was exciting to see so many other girls play. They do so much for us and always have our back on the bench, so it was nice to return the favor.”
Five players scored to lift Loyola to a 17-0 lead, and the Ramblers never looked back.
While Loyola head coach Jeremy Schoenecker wasn’t too happy with the team’s 28-12 lead at the half, the Ramblers raced past the Eagles in the third, using a 9-0 run to go ahead 39-14 with 2 minutes, 32 seconds remaining in the quarter. A highlight of the third was the back-to-back 3-pointers by freshmen Kate Kurkowski and Addison Ebeling.
“It was nice to get a lot of girls in the game and to give our starters a lot of time to sit,” said Schoenecker, who played 15 Ramblers on Tuesday. “It’s been a long season, and we didn’t want to wear anybody out before Thursday.”
Senior forward Clare Nelson led Loyola’s offense with 14 points. Junior forward Lilly Wehman added 12 points and two blocks. Sophomore guard Julia Martinez contributed nine points and had four steals in the first quarter. In all, nine Ramblers scored, including senior forward Franny Barnett and senior forward Leigh Kinsler.
Thursday’s game will be the second meeting between Loyola and Trinity. The Blazers beat the Ramblers 42-30 in a GCAC Red game Dec. 13 in River Forest. Loyola is looking for its first regional title since 2014.
“This is such a meaningful game for us,” Kane said. “We are excited to cut down a net.”