When two perennial powers playing near their best basketball meet, something has to give.
And on Thursday, Feb. 23, in the IHSA Class 4A New Trier Sectional, that happened to be Loyola Academy.
Maine South, the sectional’s top seed, used hot first-half shooting and lockdown second-half defense to top the No. 3 Ramblers 49-38 in Northfield.
The Hawks’ win flipped the script from 2022, when Loyola got the best of Maine South in the sectional-title bout.
The area powers traded hot shooting in the first half. Loyola freshman reserve Marycait Mackie sank three 3-pointers, while South junior Ava Blagojevich hit four of her own to lead her team to a 26-22 halftime advantage.
Blagojevich’s two late-half triples turned the game around. Three Ramblers’ threes gave them a 22-18 advantage, but Blagojevich’s heroics — two contested treys — handed her team the halftime lead
Points were harder to come by for the Ramblers in the second half, and down the stretch, the Hawks forced numerous turnovers to stall any Loyola comeback.
Junior Paige Engels led the Ramblers with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. Mackie finished with 12 points, and freshman Clare Weasler added 7.
The Ramblers finished the season 28-7 with a regional championship and runnerup finish in the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference tournament. With no seniors, Loyola will presumably return its entire lineup next season, including junior leaders Engels and Kelsey Langston, junior sharpshooter Morgan Bruno, junior starter Julia Gamboa, sophomore starter Nora Emerson, sophomore reserve Grace Bronski, and freshmen standouts Mackie and Weasler, among others.
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