Loyola got itself into a big hole early Monday, but the Ramblers tried their best all game to climb out of it.
Still, it wasn’t enough as the fourth-seeded Ramblers ended their season with a 56-45 loss to top-seeded Evanston in the Class 4A sectional semifinals at Niles West. The Wildkits play third-seeded Maine West on Thursday for the sectional title.
The Ramblers (21-11) trailed by as many as 20 twice in the third quarter and 42-24 heading into the fourth. But junior guard Adie Morrill made a 3-pointer to trigger an 8-0 run to start the final quarter that closed the gap to 10, 42-32, with 5 minutes, 5 seconds remaining.
“We have battled all year,” Loyola head coach Jeremy Schoenecker said. “The girls showed what they are made of [Monday]. We never stopped fighting. We didn’t lose because of our effort. Our effort has been amazing all season.”
Evanston (26-3) answered behind senior guard and Western Michigan-bound Leighah-Amori Wool, who scored six consecutive points to up the lead to 48-32. She finished with a game-best 29 points.
Loyola cut it to 10 again on another Morrill 3-pointer with 1:06 to go, but time simply ran out on the Ramblers.
“We fell down big early, and that hurt,” Schoenecker said. “Evanston beat us up in a lot of different areas. But this environment didn’t scare us. We were accustomed to playing in situations like this.”
Senior forward Clare Nelson led Loyola with 15 points, while sophomore guard Julia Martinez added 10 points. Junior guard Erin Dillon made three 3s to finish with nine points.
Nelson is one of seven seniors who played her final game for the Ramblers. The others include: Franny Barnett, Kasidy Caldwell, Mary Dooley, Madison Kane, Leigh Kinsler and Julia Neumeyer.
“I will remember their toughness, and that they hated to lose,” Schoenecker said of the senior class.