Loyola’s players are aware of the program’s recent lack of success against Evanston, according to head coach Jeremy Schoenecker.
While the Wildkits have ended the Ramblers’ season in the sectionals three of the last four years, Schoenecker said there’s no reason why Loyola (23-5) can’t beat Evanston (20-8) on Thursday at the Class 4A regional final at Lane Tech.
“We know it’s going to be a slugfest, but it’s time for us to get over this hurdle,” he said.
The main key in beating Evanston is keeping the Wildkits from getting too many second-chance opportunities on offense, according to Schoenecker. Evanston earned a 47-43 win over the Ramblers on Jan. 6.
“I don’t think they shoot at a high percentage, but they are relentless on the glass and are able to score that way,” he said. “Evanston’s strength is our weakness. If we can keep them under wraps, we will put ourselves in great position to win the game.”
Loyola, the No. 3 seed at the Maine East Sectional, advanced to the regional final by beating the No. 13-seeded Indians 63-39 on Tuesday. No. 6 Evanston defeated No. 11 Oak Park-River Forest 57-44. It was the sixth consecutive win for both teams.
Schoenecker credited junior guard Addison Bendery, sophomore forward Addison Ebeling and freshman forward Isabella Ogilore for providing a spark off the bench in the first half. Leading by six after the first quarter, Loyola went into intermission ahead 46-17.
“They really gave us a lift and were responsible for us breaking the game open,” Schoenecker said.
Evanston has won five consecutive regional titles, while Loyola is looking for its second in a row.