As Loyola senior Julia Martinez made her way to the bench with 1 minute, 2 seconds to go in the fourth quarter Monday, the crowd at Evanston stood up and gave her a well-deserved round of applause.
Her exit signaled the end of phenomenal four-year career after the Ramblers’ 48-35 loss to the host Wildkits in the Class 4A sectional semifinals, and the people in attendance wanted to show respect to the four-year starter who helped Loyola win 92 games and three Class 4A regional titles.
“Whether we were going to win or lose, she played like it was her final game,” Loyola head coach Jeremy Schoenecker said. “She was outstanding.”
Martinez scored nine of her team-high 16 points in the first quarter to keep the No. 2-seeded Ramblers close. Her basket in the first minute of the second gave Loyola a 17-14 lead.
But Loyola didn’t score for the final 7:01 of the half and went into the locker room down 26-17 to the No. 3-seeded Wildkits.
Back-to-back baskets by senior Jordan Moser and junior Addison Ebeling got the Ramblers within seven, 28-21, at the 5:44 mark of the third quarter. But Evanston scored the next five points to go ahead 33-21, and Loyola never got closer than 10.
Sophomore Summer Parker-Hall and Ebeling each scored five points for the Ramblers (24-8). It was the fourth season in a row they won at least 21 games.
“We had a pretty good start, but we got stagnant,” Schoenecker said. “The end of the second quarter was crucial. They went on that run and knocked us back on our heels.
“We had our opportunities, but it was not our night.”
Martinez and Moser were two of six seniors to play their final game for the Ramblers. Addison Bendery, Ellen Naughton, Celia Satter and Keely Stanton were the others.