Ramblers on a roll: The Loyola girls basketball team extended its winning streak to six games after beating Kenwood 62-48 on Saturday at Fremd and Joliet Catholic 51-29 on Sunday at Nazareth. The Ramblers haven’t lost since a 65-59 defeat to New Trier on Nov. 16.
“It was a good weekend,” Loyola head coach Jeremy Schoenecker said. “We are finally getting better on the defensive end of the floor. They are beginning to do the things we’ve been stressing since Day 1, taking charges, rebounding.”
But the Ramblers (7-1) don’t have time to rejoice in their recent run of success. On Tuesday, they open the GCAC Red schedule at home against Trinity (7-0). It will be Loyola’s third game in four days.
The last time the two teams played the Ramblers beat the Blazers 55-51 in the Class 4A regional final at Trinity. From that team, the Blazers return 6-foot-2 senior center Alexandria Fanning and senior guard Lauren Lee, a player Schoenecker said was one of the conference’s best players as a junior.
“It’s a tough test,” Schoenecker said. “The challenge for us is their physicality. Every game in our conference will be difficult. Every team is good and sound.”
In addition to Trinity, Fenwick, Montini, Mother McAuley, St. Ignatius make up the GCAC Red. Montini is considered one of the favorites to win Class 4A. The Lady Broncos took third last season.
Celia Satter stepping up: In her first season as a starter, Satter (pictured above) is leading the Ramblers in scoring at 14.5 points through eight games. A contributor off the bench last season, the junior forward scored a career-high 32 in a 72-68 win over Harlan on Nov. 21 and is shooting 40.7 percent from 3-point range.
“That’s been nice to see,” Schoenecker said. “We wondered if we had a player like that.”
But Satter isn’t the only pleasant surprise this season, according to Schoenecker. Senior guard Adie Morrill and junior guard Addison Bendery also have exceeded expectations.
Known as a shooter, Morrill has improved her defense, while Bendery has become a go-to player off the bench early this season.
“All three understand what we were asking them to do for us,” Schoenecker said.
Junior guard and three-year starter Julia Martinez is playing as expected. She’s averaging 11.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.9 steals. Senior guard Erin Dillon, another returning starter, is third on the team in scoring at 7.4 points. Lilly Wehman — the team’s third returning starter — is averaging 6.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.
Practice makes perfect: After four games in six days to start the season, the Loyola boys basketball team will have had 20 days to play its next four games.
Following a seven-day layoff between games, the Ramblers (4-1) beat Marmion 48-26 on the road Friday. Loyola doesn’t play again until Friday when it hosts St. Francis. The Ramblers play at home against Notre Dame on Dec. 12 before traveling to St. Rita on Dec. 15 for their opener in the Catholic Blue.
“These days of practice are important for us,” Loyola head coach Tom Livatino said. “We still are an inexperienced team, and we need these practices to make a big jump.”
One of four new starters, junior guard and varsity rookie Connor Barrett leads the Ramblers in scoring (12.2 points) and 3-point shooting (15-for-41).
Senior guard Kevin Cunningham — the lone starter back — is averaging 10.0 points and 3.4 rebounds. He leads the team in steals (7), charges (6) and deflections (18). Senior Pete Mangan is averaging a team-best 4.4 rebounds to go with 8.4 points, shooting 65.2 percent from the field. Mangan is second behind Cunningham in charges (5) and deflections (17).
Never give up: Senior forward Billy McCormick isn’t a typical first-year varsity player.
As a sophomore, he was cut from the sophomore team. As a junior, he was cut from varsity. Both seasons, he chose to stay with the teams as a manager.
“He hung with it, and he never blamed anybody and took responsibility to get better,” Livatino said. “He has a great attitude. He deserves to be here.”
McCormick has been an important player in practice, according to Livatino.
“He brings so much energy, like he’s going with his hair on fire,” Livatino said. “He has helped us.”
McCormick scored his first points on a layup against Marmion.
Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola