Win sends off seniors: All five seniors started and all five scored in the Loyola girls basketball team’s 60-15 win over Regina Dominican on Senior Night.
The regular starters — guard Erin Dillon, guard Adie Morrill, forward Lilly Wehman — played as expected. Morrill finished with a season-high 14 points, going 5-for-5 from the field. She also had four assists and three steals. Dillon had eight points, while Wehman totaled three points, four rebounds, two assists and one block.
But the spotlight belonged to guards Margaret Bourke (pictured above) and Mary Kate Sanjaj as both of them were making their first varsity starts of the season. Sanjaj made the most of the opportunity by connecting on both of her 3-point attempts to score six points. She added two rebounds and two steals. Bourke had one point to go with three rebounds, two assists and one steal.
“Both of those girls knew they weren’t going to play much this season, but that did nothing to change how they practiced every day,” Loyola head coach Jeremy Schoenecker said. “As a coach, that is rewarding to see.”
Loyola’s final home game is Feb. 10 against Kalamazoo Central (Michigan).
Playoff picture in focus: The Ramblers (21-5) received the No. 3 at the Class 4A Maine East Sectional and will start the postseason Feb. 13 at the Lane Regional against either No. 13 Lane or No. 18 Von Steuben. The regional final is Feb. 15.
Evanston, the No. 6 seed, also is at Lane. The Wildkits beat Loyola 47-43 on Jan. 6 in Wilmette. The Ramblers were ahead by as many as 17 in the second half, and Evanston’s first lead didn’t come until the 2:54 mark of the fourth.
Maine West (22-1) earned the top seed and is at Glenbrook South, while Proviso East (20-2) is No. 2 and at Mather. No. 4 Trinity (17-6) is at New Trier.
On guard: Defense always has been the calling card for boys head coach Tom Livatino, but this season might be one the best jobs in his nine seasons at Loyola.
On Tuesday, the Ramblers beat St. Patrick in Chicago 37-11. It was the fewest points one of Livatino’s teams has allowed in his 14 seasons as head coach between. He was at Lincoln Park from 2004-09.
Loyola (20-3) limited the Shamrocks to 4-for-35 from the field, including 1-for-16 on 3-point attempts, and the Ramblers took five charges and blocked three shots.
“We had a very good understanding of who they are and what they ran,” Livatino said. “We didn’t give them any transition or second-chance baskets, and we contested their shots. I am really happy with our effort and our basketball IQ.”
While that was an outlier, the Ramblers have been consistently difficult to score on, with opponents averaging 35.4 points. The most points Loyola has surrendered was in a 53-50 win against Deerfield Beach (Florida) in the final at the Gulfcoast Holiday Hoopfest in Naples, Florida. The Ramblers have given up 38 points or less in 13 games.
Opponents are shooting 42.0 percent on 2-pointers and 25.9 percent on 3s. Loyola is taking an average of 2.5 charges a game.
“Defense is the cornerstone of our program, and we preach it constantly,” Livatino said. “We are grinders, and we do the tough stuff. We’ve been very consistent all year.”
Winning combination: When both the boys and girls basketball teams won Tuesday, it marked the third time in six seasons that both teams have won at least 20 games in the same season.
With Loyola’s 54-29 win over De La Salle at home, Schoenecker reached 20 victories for the eighth time in 10 seasons. Meanwhile, the boys’ 37-11 win over St. Patrick in Chicago gave Livatino four out of nine seasons with at least 20 victories.
Through Thursday, Schoenecker is 217-88 in his career at Loyola, while Livatino is 159-101.
Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola