Less than two minutes into Saturday’s game at DePaul Prep as part of the Steve Pappas Shootout, Loyola head coach Tom Livatino didn’t like what he saw from his team and called a timeout.
The Ramblers received his message and outscored Marian Catholic 14-2 the rest of the first quarter. Loyola (15-4) started the second on a 6-0 run and never looked back to knock off the No. 4-ranked Spartans (15-2) with a 49-35 win. Marian Catholic took third place in Class 3A last season.
It was Marian Catholic’s first loss with junior Ahron Ulis in the lineup. He’s the brother of Tyler Ulis, who starred for the Spartans and later at University of Kentucky before turning professional. Ahron scored a game-best 19 points, but he didn’t have a field goal in the fourth quarter.
“They played beautifully,” Marian Catholic head coach Mike Taylor said.
The Ramblers went 5-for-13 on 3-pointers in the first half, two each by senior guards Connor Barrett and Quinn Pemberton. Junior forward Bennett Kwiecinski took over in the third quarter, scoring eight of his team-high 15 points in the first five minutes of the second half to give Loyola a 36-19 lead.
“I was playing as fast I could and attacking the rim whenever I could,” said Kwiecinski, who added five rebounds. “I tried to stay under control.”
Barrett finished with 14 points and five assists. Pemberton totaled six points and six rebounds. Junior forward Matty Mangan took two charges as the Ramblers won for the ninth game in a row.
Senior Christopher White scored eight points for the Spartans.
“We understood what they were trying to do, and we did a good job of playing team defense,” Livatino said. “We’ve been playing really well lately. The guys have confidence now.”
DePaul’s one-day event, in its first year, honored former Gordon Tech head coach Steve Pappas, who died in 2006 at 54 years old due to complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Loyola assistant coach Paul Pryma was good friends with Pappas, who’s in the Hall of Fame for both the Illinois High School Basketball Coaches Association and Catholic League.
“We were happy to be included in this great event,” Livatino said. “I have a lot of respect for Steve, as both a coach and person.”
The Ramblers have a tough road ahead. They play at Notre Dame on Tuesday and at home Friday against St. Joseph before taking on St. Viator on Saturday at Evanston as part of the War on the Shore.