Who knew the third game of the season would produce such an electric atmosphere?
But fireworks flew at Loyola on Wednesday. The host Ramblers beat rival New Trier 64-61 in triple overtime at the two teams’ shared tournament in front of a standing-room only crowd. Both student sections were in playoff form.
“This is what Loyola-New Trier should be about,” said second-year Loyola coach Chris Livatino. “That’s how (the games) should go.”
If that’s the case, count me in for all future games.
Loyola owned the biggest lead in the second half of both teams when Jared Prince scored his fifth basket of the third quarter to go up 35-29. The senior scored a game-high 22 and established himself as a post presence for the Ramblers.
“Jared’s been up and down offensively this season,” said the coach, whose team improved to 2-1 and will play 6-10 Illinois-bound Nnanna Egwu and St. Ignatius on Saturday. “We have to get him to understand his role. We think he can dominate as a low-post scorer. He took over that third quarter. This was a good starting point for him.”
There were two ties and two lead changes in the fourth quarter, the final tie coming at 42-all when New Trier’s Connor Boehm scored with 53 seconds left in regulation.
New Trier had chances to win at the end of the first two overtimes, but the Trevians couldn’t connect.
Loyola guard Richard Wehman, who came in after Robbie Kus fouled out, added his name to the lore of the rivalry by scoring consecutive baskets to stake the Ramblers to a lead they wouldn’t lose.
Mike Lang secured the win with six points in the final 2:06, including four free throws in the last 24 seconds. The senior scored all of one basket in the first four quarters before coming alive in the overtimes.
“Last year, if things didn’t go well, he would have disappeared,” Livatino said. “This is the Mike Lang we know and love. He’s a special player.”
New Trier wasn’t without its stars.
Boehm, a known commodity, almost did everything he could to deliver a win. While his clutch shots didn’t fall Wednesday, here’s guessing he will make he more than his share throughout the season. The junior finished with 16 points.
Transfer Austin Angel, who came from Boylan, added 11 points. He showed signs of becoming a nice counterpart to Boehm.
One Trevian who truly surprised everybody, perhaps except for those close to New Trier, was Jordan Thomas.
The freshman guard played nearly all the meaningful minutes down the stretch and scored 11. He buried a three-pointer early in the third overtime and later added a basket with four seconds to go. Both baskets inched New Trier to within one.
Too bad Illinois coach Bruce Weber, seen in the stands watching Egwu in the opening game, didn’t stick around for this one.