Loyola is playing its best basketball of the season, according to head coach Jeremy Schoenecker, and that’s a good thing because the Ramblers are facing one of their tougher stretches of the schedule.

Beginning with Friday’s GCAC Red road game against Montini, the Chicago Tribune’s No. 1-ranked team, the Ramblers play four games in seven days. The fourth game — at Mother McAuley on Jan. 19 — is Loyola’s fifth and final league of the season.

“The whole bonding [in Arizona] brought us closer together,” Schoenecker said. “That’s going to help us over the next two weeks. It’s going to be a grind. All of the games are important, whether for conference seeding or postseason seeding.”

Loyola (14-5, 2-1) ended last week with a 46-26 win over Batavia for its fifth consecutive victory. Junior forward Lilly Wehman scored a career-best 20 points to go with seven rebounds, four blocks and one steal. She went 5-for-7 on 3-pointers, her best outside shooting performance of the season.

“She’s starting to impact both ends of the floor,” Schoenecker said. “We are able to start [running some plays] we’ve always had because she’s playing better offensively. She’s really worked at it. She’s in the gym all the time, so it’s refreshing to see her have a game like this.”

Senior forward Clare Nelson (pictured above) had 13 points and four rebounds, while senior guard Madison Kane finished with seven points, two rebounds, one steal and one block. Sophomore guard Julia Martinez scored only three points, but she had 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals.

Montini (18-0, 2-0) will be the best team Loyola has played all season. The Broncos have multiple Division I signees, including senior guard Kaylee Bambule (Ohio) and senior guard Nikki Oppenheimer (Syracuse). Junior Lindsey Jarosinski, a 6-foot-5 center, and junior Aaliyah Patty, a 6-3 forward, both are drawing Division I interest.

“We are looking forward to the challenge of competing with Montini,” Schoenecker said.

Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola