Loyola girls basketball team positioning itself for postseason: The Ramblers are making a strong case for the No. 2 seed at the Class 4A Evanston Sectional. After earning a 54-37 win over Fenwick at home Monday, they are 17-5. It was Loyola’s fourth win over a team ranked in the latest Illinois Preps Insider’s Top 20.

Top-ranked Maine West (21-0), which took third place in Class 4A last season, is the front-runner for the No. 1 seed. The 13th-ranked Ramblers are competing with No. 11 New Trier and No. 14 Evanston for No. 2. Loyola owns wins over both teams and is 4-0 against sectional opponents.

Four of Loyola’s five losses came to teams ranked 12th or better, and all of them were by six points or less. The other loss was a 60-52 defeat to Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida, one of the state’s top teams.

“We’ve talked to our team a little bit about where we are,” Loyola head coach Jeremy Schoenecker said. “We’ve played a tough schedule, and we have some good wins. I hope head-to-head record matters. But the key for us is to keep winning. We can only control what we do.”

The seeds will be released Jan. 31 and the pairings Feb. 1.

Practice shake-up sparks Ramblers: Upon returning from its holiday trip to Naples, Florida, Schoenecker said he and the coaching staff discussed how to improve practices. One change was to the way the Ramblers scrimmaged.

“Before, we put the first team against the second team and so on,” Schoenecker said. “But we thought it might be good to have the classes scrimmage each other, seniors against juniors. I can tell you that our practices are way more competitive. It’s really energized us, and it’s been fun to watch.”

Another thing Schoenecker has addressed in the new year is emphasizing the importance of each possession, especially those at the end of quarters.

“Sometimes, we don’t value possessions as much as we should,” he said. “We did a much better job of that against Fenwick.”

The Ramblers had the final possession after each of the first three quarters and enjoyed a plus-10 point differential.

“That was great to see,” Schoenecker said.

In the win over the No. 16 Friars, sophomore Summer Parker-Hall scored a team-high 16 points to go with seven rebounds and two steals. Sophomore Silvana Scarsella added 11 points. Senior Julia Martinez totaled six points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals. Senior Celia Satter contributed six points, three rebounds and two assists.

Loyola is off until Monday after Saturday’s game against Montini was postponed due to possible inclement weather. Next week will be busy, starting with Monday’s game against No. 8 Fremd at Willowbrook. The Ramblers are at Montini on Wednesday. They play De La Salle on Thursday and Providence Catholic on Saturday. Both games are at home and part of Mother McAuley’s tournament.

“Something I stress to the girls is that we will be tested once we get to the state tournament,” Schoenecker said.

Challenging stretch nearing a close for Loyola boys basketball team: The Ramblers, who entered the week ranked No. 18 by the Chicago Sun-Times, had their nine-game winning streak end Tuesday with a 43-36 loss to Notre Dame on the road. It was Loyola’s fourth game in eight days. The rough road wraps up with Friday’s game at home against St. Joseph and against Saint Viator on Saturday.

On Tuesday, senior Connor Barrett scored 11 points and had five rebounds. Senior Nikko Landon added seven points. Senior Quinn Pemberton finished with three assists, and junior Bennett Kwiecinski had five rebounds.