The last leg of the toughest stretch of the season concludes Saturday when Loyola plays Geneva on Saturday at Willowbrook as part of the Derrill Kipp Subway Shootout.

It will put a period on an eight-day run that included games against Evanston, Fenwick, Montini and the Class 4A defending state champion Vikings.

“We knew when we put the schedule together this was going to be really, really difficult,” Loyola head coach Jeremy Schoenecker said.

On Thursday at home, the Ramblers lost to Montini 56-40 in a GCAC Red game. The Lady Broncos took third in Class 4A last season and are one of the favorites to win the state title this year. Montini (21-1, 3-0) is undefeated against in-state opponents.

The Lady Broncos started three Division I players in 6-foot-3 senior forward Aaliyah Patty (Ohio State), 6-5 senior center Lindsey Jarosinski (Wake Forest) and senior guard Illysse Pitts (Valparaiso).

Loyola (15-4, 2-1) stayed close with Montini early and went into the half down 25-16.

But the Ramblers, who struggled shooting the ball from the perimeter, scored three points in the third quarter and trailed 35-19. They made a run in the fourth to get within eight, 36-28, but the Lady Broncos countered with an 8-0 stretch to take control.

Loyola shot well below its 30.3-percent season average from 3-point range, finishing 10-for-44 against Montini.

“You can’t shoot that poorly and expect to beat anybody,” Schoenecker said. “If we shoot it well, we could have stayed in it.”

Even when the Ramblers cut the deficit to eight, Schoenecker said his team faced long odds in overtaking Montini.

“You hope you have more bullets, but I never felt confident,” he said. “It was not our night.”

Junior guard Julia Martinez scored a team-best 14 points, while senior guard Erin Dillon added nine points. Junior guard Celia Satter (pictured above) had eight points.

Patty finished with a game-high 20 points, and Jarosinski contributed 13 points.

Loyola doesn’t have time to dwell on its most lopsided loss of the season.

“We can’t put our heads down,” Schoenecker said. “We have to move. We have another tough game to get ready for.”

Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola