Difficult draw: Even though Maine South is the No. 7 seed at the Class 4A Maine East Sectional, Loyola girls basketball head coach Jeremy Schoenecker said No. 3 Ramblers aren’t taking the Hawks lightly when the two teams play Monday.

“They are well-coached and run their stuff well,” he said. “It will be a challenging game for us.”

After losing seven of its last eight games in the regular season, Maine South earned its way to the sectionals for the second consecutive season with a 48-45 win over No. 2 Proviso East at Mather. Loyola captured its second regional title in a row by beating No. 6 Evanston 47-31 at Lane.

The Ramblers (24-5) already own one win over Maine South (20-10) this season, beating the Hawks 39-38 on Jan. 23 in Park Ridge.

The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was at the 2012 Class 4A sectional semifinals at New Trier. Loyola beat Maine South 42-25 in that game on its way to fourth place at the state tournament.

In Monday’s other sectional semifinal at Maine East, No. 1 Maine West (27-1) plays No. 5 New Trier (24-5). The sectional final is Thursday.

Hitting the skids: The Loyola boys basketball team enters the final game of the regular season at home Tuesday against Steinmetz on a three-game losing streak. The latest loss was a 48-45 defeat to Fenwick at home Friday in the last game of the Catholic Blue schedule. Those three losses were by a combined 11 points.

“We have talked about it, but it’s no cause for concern,” senior forward Pete Mangan said of the dubious streak. “Evanston, St. Joseph and Fenwick are all good teams, and we were in every game.”

With one more game before the postseason, Mangan said the Ramblers (21-6) have hit the reset button.

“We are in playoff mode now,” he said.

Postseason pairings: The Ramblers received the No. 4 seed at the Class 4A Maine East Sectional and open the state series at the Maine South Regional. They play either No. 14 Hersey or No. 20 Von Steuben on Feb. 27 in the regional semifinals.

With a win, Loyola likely plays No. 5 Maine South. While the Hawks will have homecourt advantage, history is on the side of the Ramblers. Loyola beat Maine South 42-37 on the Hawks’ home floor in 2014 to capture the Class 4A sectional championship. Mangan’s brother, Michael Mangan, was a junior on Loyola that season.

That doesn’t mean much to Loyola head coach Tom Livatino, who said he believes the top four seeds should be regional hosts.

“Maine South is playing really well right now, and they have some big wins,” he said. “They are a hard team to play against.”

Evanston earned the top seed at the sectional, followed by New Trier at No. 2 and Niles North at No. 3. The Wildkits and Trevians both have wins over the Ramblers this season.

“Once we lost to Evanston, we figured we would be No. 4,” Livatino said.

Injury sidelines John Lynch: Senior guard John Lynch separated his left shoulder this week during practice and missed the Fenwick game. It was an injury he first suffered during the football season.

Livatino said Saturday that Lynch’s status is unclear. Lynch has started several games and is considered one of the top team’s top defensive players.

“He’s not done, but we don’t know when he can come back,” Livatino said. “It’s not good for us.”

Pictured above: Senior Adie Morrill

Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola