Big game from Billy Palmer wins Jesuit Cup for Loyola

When the Ramblers really needed the senior guard to provide an offensive spark in Friday night’s 43-31 win over St. Ignatius at the Gentile Center, Billy Palmer was up to the task.

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Loyola’s Billy Palmer (25) pushes the ball against St, Ignatius.

Loyola’s Billy Palmer (25) pushes the ball against St, Ignatius.

Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

BillyPalmer isn’t the biggest name on a Loyola team that has two Division I recruits and some football standouts playing a second sport.

But when the Ramblers really needed the senior guard to provide an offensivespark in Friday night’s 43-31 win over St. Ignatius at the Gentile Center, he was up to the task.

FirstPalmer hit a three-pointer from the left wing to pull the Ramblers even at 25 with 2:59 left in the third quarter. Then his driving layup at 1:49 put Loyola ahead to stay at 27-25.

Palmer finished with a career-high 16 points and also grabbed five rebounds as Loyola won the Jesuit Cup for the fourth straight year.

”I think for our offense to be successful, having another person who can go off the dribble and shoot the ball is huge for us,” Palmer said.

Loyola coach Tom Livatino had a feeling it could be a big night for Palmer.

”St. Ignatius decided they weren’t going to guard Billy, and truth be told, that hasn’t happened this year,” Livatino said. “We actually talked about it this week. We thought they might sag off (him) a little bit. ...

”We said Billy needs to be ready to make winning plays. And I have so much trust in Billy that I just let him interpret that any way he wanted. That meant let her rip, that meant move the ball, however he felt.

”And he felt pretty good.”

Palmer got his points on 6-for-10 shooting, while Matt Enghauser added 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting. The rest of the Ramblers shot 6-for-21.

”It was a slog,” Livatino said. “We don’t necessarily pride ourselves on being the prettiest team. We’re going to grind you, we’re going to guard you.”

That defense has been especially effective late this week. The Ramblers (16-1, 6-0 Catholic Blue) held St. Rita to 12 second-half points on Tuesday and limited St. Ignatius (12-5, 4-2) to 10 points after halftime.

Luke Collins scored seven points to lead the Wolfpack, who shot 4-for-16 after halftime and 3-for-18 on three-pointers.

The leader of the defense, as usual, was 6-8 Drake recruit Jordan Kwiecinski, who blocked three shots and altered numerous others.

”The thing about Jordan that I love is he’s been our intangible player of the year and our defensive player of the year,” Livatino said. “You don’t find a lot of Division I players who are willing to make that kind of commitment to the defensive end without fail.”

Kwiecinski has high standards for himself, saying Palmer and Matt Mangan outplayed him on defense on Friday. But he liked the overall effort.

”The first half, we just weren’t playing fast enough on defense,” Kwiecinski said. “And we were getting beat one-on-one a lot. Second half we found our energy.”

Palmer saw no flaws in Kwiecinski’s defense.

”Jordan is really good at knowing the role of being the best defender in the state, and that’s what he strives to be,” Palmer said. “He knows buckets will come, but that’s not what he’s looking to do.

”He’s looking to shut down their best player and he’s done that so many games for us.”

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