Loyola and Ramar Evans were under no illusions about the task that was in front of them on Saturday at the War on the Shore in Evanston. No. 10 St. Patrick is a talented, athletic team that has improved throughout the season.
The Shamrocks vaulted into the top ten of the Super 25 after knocking off Orr two weeks ago. That victory on the west side tipped St. Patrick as a serious threat to watch in March.
“They are better than us,” Evans said. “They have more skilled players than us.”
That’s Evans after the Ramblers knocked off the Shamrocks 69-60.
“The reason we won is because we fought, we had heart and we made all the right plays,” Evans said. “The effort plays, the intangibles.”
It was a foul-laden game. St. Patrick’s high-flying senior, Alton Thompson, was ejected after picking up his second technical in the fourth quarter. Throughout the game the Ramblers seemed to handle the officiating with calmer heads, except for coach Tom Livatino.
“[Livatino] is a good example of what not to do,” Evans said. “But his number one rule is not to say anything to the refs, to leave that to him. When you start talking, like St. Pat’s did a little bit, things can get worse. You just shut up and take the bad call and maybe you will get a good one later.”
Evans led Loyola with 19 points and five rebounds. Junior Kevin Cunningham added 18 points.
“[Cunningham] is really good, he’s a very underrated player,” Livatino said. He’s like a lot of our guards in the past. He can handle it really good and he can shoot it.”
The Shamrocks (18-4) led by eight points at the half. Loyola (15-5) took control with a 15-1 run in the third quarter in which Thompson picked up his first technical foul.
Thompson led St. Patrick with 15 points. He transferred in from California and is clearly one of the area’s top athletes. Xavier Pinson scored 14 and senior Laurence Merritt added 10 points.
The Ramblers have won 10 consecutive games. They were 5-5 at one point.
“[At the holiday tournament in Florida] we became closer,” Evans said. “We won the championship, and after that coming back to Chicago we realized we could continue to beat teams like St. Pat’s.”
Most of Loyola’s losses are to quality teams. Cunnigham says the team had to “learn how to finish.” Livatino thinks his senior-heavy squad just finally figured things out.
“We started playing a little more like Loyola,” Livatino said. “We have to play a certain way, and if we don’t play that way we aren’t going to be successful. We have to guard and we have to run our offense full speed.”