Jack factor: Loyola head coach Tom Livatino said senior guard Jack Martinus (pictured above) is someone who delivers what he desires from a player. “We want to be perfect in our effort, and he always comes pretty darn close,” Livatino said. “He’s a grinder, a player who maximizes all of his abilities. He’s special.” Martinus, who mostly comes off the bench, had a big hand in team’s 43-36 win over Highland Park in the Class 4A regional semifinals at Zion-Benton after senior guard and captain Ramar Evans went down with a back injury. Martinus finished with three steals and three deflections to help the Ramblers advance to the regional final. “Coach tells us to have an impact as soon you go into the game,” Martinus said. “When I go in, I do my best to find ways to make the team better.” Livatino said Martinus is a smart player who always is asking questions. “I definitely do,” Martinus said, laughing. “I want to be 100 percent sure about everything, so I don’t have to think about anything during a game.” Last week’s regional title is the most recent championship in Martinus’ successful athletic career at Loyola. As a varsity football player, he went 27-1, winning a Class 8A state title as a junior and finishing runner-up in the state as a senior. He also captured two Catholic Blue championships, going undefeated in league play both seasons. Several of his football teammates are among the most vocal fans in Loyola’s student section during basketball games. One of them is childhood friend, Tommy Herion, who is known to wear a Darth Vader mask that he borrowed from Martinus. “It’s the best seeing those guys there, supporting me and the team, knowing they have our back,” Martinus said.

Lockdown Loyola: Livatino knows why his team is successful, and the Ramblers showed off their strength in two regional wins at Zion-Benton. They held Highland Park and New Trier to a total of 76 points and 32.1 percent from the field. The Giants and Trevians were a combined 9-for-39 from 3-point range last week. “It’s pretty simple,” Livatino said. “We are a defensive team.” For the season, the Ramblers have allowed an average of 43.4 points. Opponents are shooting 38.9 percent from the field, including 27.8 percent on 3-pointers. Loyola’s defense will be put to the test Tuesday against Evanston, a team that features multiple players capable of scoring 20 or more points. “We will do our best to limit their scoring options, but it won’t be easy,” Livatino said.

State awards: Junior Lilly Wehman and sophomore Julia Martinez each earned Class 3A/4A honorable mention from the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association. Both players also were named to the all-GCAC Red team. Martinez finished the season averaging 10.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 4.2 steals. She broke the single-season assist record with 196, and her 6.8 assists per game also ranked first. Wehman averaged 6.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.9 blocks. Her 125 blocks were the most in a single season, and her 3.9 blocks per game was another record.

Alum update: Like his former high school team, 2015 Loyola graduate Mike Mangan is in the middle of a postseason run with Rochester University. The Yellowjackets (23-4) play Marietta College (26-4) at 7 p.m. (CST) Friday in the NCAA Division III Sweet 16. Mangan, a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard, played 10 minutes in each of Rochester’s first two tournament wins. He had four assists and one charge in an 82-60 victory over Union in the second round and three assists and two steals in an 89-66 win over Albertus Magnus in the tournament opener. Mangan has played in all 27 games, averaging 14.9 per contest. “My role is to play defense and create a little bit on offense, mostly for my teammates,” he said. “I want to be aggressive when I get out there and make the most of my opportunities.” Mangan was a junior in 2014 when Loyola won its last sectional title. His brother, Peter Mangan, is a junior guard on this season’s Ramblers. “It’s an exciting year for them, and I have stayed up to date, whether on Twitter or talking to my brother,” Mike said. “This team reminds me of my junior year because they have really strong senior leadership. It’s cool to see Livatino produce another winning team.”

Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola