Glencoe, Sports

Perfect Ending: 38-0 Ramblers are state champs

Loyola Academy coach Jeremy Schoenecker delivered a reality check to his team Saturday afternoon, reminding the Ramblers it was their last practice together and, later that night, their last game.

Just like they had all season, the Ramblers made the most of it.

Loyola completed its perfect season with a 44-40 win against Nazareth Academy in the IHSA Class 4A championship Saturday evening at CEFCU Arena on the campus of Illinois State University.

The Ramblers finished 38-0 to tie a state record and brought home the third state championship in program history and first since 1998.

“It’s unreal,” Schoenecker said. “We never even talked about (going undefeated). They are an unbelievable team and resilient in everything they do.”

Ramblers coach Jeremy Schoenecker to the crowd after receiving the championship medal.


Loyola erased an eight-point halftime deficit, 25-17, with an 11-0 burst to start the second half. Junior Aubrey Galvan capped the run with a crowd-pleasing 30-foot three-pointer that gave Loyola its first lead since the opening moments of the game.

After struggling against Nazareth’s 2-3 zone defense in the first half, the Ramblers figured it out to start the second.

“On offense, we began to attack the zone more,” Ramblers senior Paige Engels said. “… Something else we did, we started flashing Kelsey (Langston) to the middle (of their zone). The middle is open in their zone but it’s tough to get to because their ball pressure is so good. But when we started to do that, we started to get much better looks on offense.”

Langston (7 points, 4 rebounds) drained a three and Galvan sank a midrange jump shot to start the third-quarter run. Then an Engels triple knotted the game at 25-25, prior to Galvan’s awe-inspiring jumper.

Loyola outscored Nazareth 15-2 in the third quarter. The Ramblers also grabbed seven rebounds in the quarter to just two for the Roadrunners, who in the first half — with three 6-foot players on their front line — dominated the glass (11-6 rebounding advantage) and post play in general in the first half (8-of-9 shooting in the paint).

Schoenecker said Loyola focused on their help defense in the second half. Galvan sagged off her assignment to clog up passing lanes, and the Ramblers continued to front Nazareth’s post players.

“We are pretty good at fronting. You have to be pretty precise to get a pass in there,” he said.

Loyola junior Aubrey Galvan (right) dives for the loose ball.

The Ramblers never trailed after Galvan’s third-quarter three-pointer; though, the Roadrunners remained within striking distance, tying the game once at 32-32

An Engels’ three, off an assist from Langston, gave Loyola the lead right back.

To help seal the win, sophomore Clare Weasler sank two free throws to give her team a five-point lead with 39 seconds to go. The sophomore then drew a charge on the other end of the floor to give her team the ball right back.

Engels and Langston finished off the win at the free-throw line.

Engels led Loyola with 17 points, hitting 5 of 9 shots from the floor and all three of her three-point attempts. The senior and three-year starter has been the team’s anchor for two straight seasons and was all smiles in the victory’s afterglow.

“It feels awesome,” she said. “This team deserves it so much. What a perfect way to end our perfect season.”

Loyola sophomore reserve Marycait Mackie hit a big first-half three-pointer and finished with 3 rebounds. Langston’s team-high 4 rebounds all came in the second half. Starting senior Julia Gamboa was a +5 in her 13 minutes on the court. (See more game statistics here.)

Senior Kelsey Langston tries to split the defense for the Ramblers.

Galvan finished with 15 points and a pair of steals. After two years at Deerfield High School, the junior star came to Loyola Academy in the offseason.

Loyola was already returning its entire roster — led by multi-year varsity standouts Engels, Langston and Morgan Bruno — from a 28-win 2022-’23 season, and Galvan’s arrival instantly made the Ramblers one of Class 4A’s favorites. They backed it up, putting together a season that will go down in school and state history.

“We never talked about (going undefeated),” Schoenecker reiterated. “We started at Thanksgiving, then you get to Christmas, then you get into conference play and we’re like, ‘Man, can we really run the table?’ as a coaching staff and I think they started to feel it at the end of the year.

“They’ve been just resilient and the one thing I think is that they love each other. You can see it. There’s nothing fake about bus rides or the way they interact with one another. They truly love being in the gym together and working together.”

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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