Men for others: The Loyola boys basketball team hosts Brother Rice at 7 p.m. on Friday in the Catholic Blue. But the game has a greater meaning than which team gets its first conference win.
The Ramblers (6-2, 0-1) and Crusaders (6-4, 0-1) are teaming up to raise money for Metavivor, an Annapolis, Maryland-based organization that funds research for Stage IV breast cancer.
Students will be walking throughout the stands soliciting donations, and merchandise will be sold at the school. All proceeds benefit Metaviver. Additionally, coaches will wear pink ties and players will wear pink socks. During halftime, Loyola senior captains Kevin Cunningham and Pete Mangan will talk about the cause.
“This is personal to me, and it means a lot that we can do this,” Loyola head coach Tom Livatino said. “Everybody, whether it’s personal or family or friends or someone they know, will deal with breast cancer in their lifetime.”
Varsity parent Colleen Barrett has been instrumental in organizing the event, according to Livatino. But he said many others have played roles in making Friday a reality, including Kristin Hughes and Tonya Pemberton.
“I am grateful for all of the support from both Loyola and our program as well as Brother Rice,” he said. “It speaks volumes about both schools.”
On Sunday, Livatino spoke for nearly an hour to his team in an effort to educate the Ramblers about the disease.
“It was an opportunity to expand the walls of the classroom,” he said. “It’s important for young men to put themselves in the shoes of women and advocate for them, in all ways. It was a really good day.”
Livatino’s wife, Marie Livatino, has a close connection to Brother Rice. Her brothers all graduated from the South Side school.
Pemberton earning more playing time: Although he wasn’t in the regular rotation to start the season, Quinn Pemberton (pictured above) should see significant action for the third game in a row Friday.
A 6-foot junior guard from Highwood’s St. James School, Pemberton is a strong defender who also is able to attack the basket, according to Livatino.
“He’s taken off,” Livatino said. “He’s ahead of where I thought he would be at this time of year. He still needs to understand some of the stuff we do in our offensive and defensive systems.”
As a sophomore, Pemberton didn’t play much on the sophomore team, Livatino said. It wasn’t until the fall when he made an impression on the varsity coaches.
“He showed great progress, in both his play and in his physical stature,” Livatino said. “He’s going to get opportunities. His needle is pointing in the right direction.”
Crusaders present a challenge: A day after final exams end, Livatino said Brother Rice will be another tough test for the Ramblers. In fact, he said the Crusaders will be the best team Loyola has seen this season.
Like Loyola, the Crusaders are looking for their first win in the Catholic Blue. They lost to Fenwick 61-58 on Dec. 15 in the league opener. On the same day, Loyola lost to St. Rita 33-30 in Chicago.
According to Livatino, Brother Rice has a star in junior Marquise Kennedy, a 6-0 guard who transferred from Crete-Monee.
“Best guard we’ve seen,” Livatino said. “He can shoot it and is a big-time athletic player. He also doesn’t try to do too much. He plays within himself.”
Senior Nick Bowes, a 6-4 forward, is another player who the Crusaders count on for production.
“They don’t have a weak link,” Livatino said. “They rebound well, move the ball well and play as a team. They easily will be our biggest challenge defensively. We will have our hands full.”
The numbers: Despite subpar shooting from all over the court, the Ramblers are 6-2 and both losses were by a combined eight points. Nonetheless, they will need to improve in that area, if they want to contend for championships later this season.
Loyola is averaging 38.9 percent from the field and 55.7 percent on free throws. The Ramblers are 56-for-182 (30.8 percent) from 3-point range and 69-for-139 (49.6) on 2-point attempts.
Junior guard Connor Barrett leads the team in scoring at 12.4 points, and Cunningham follows at 10.6 points a game.
Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola