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Loyola held off a furious second half rally by Evanston, for a 59-46 boys basketball Class 4A regional semifinal victory Wednesday night at Loyola. It marked the Ramblers’ (22-5) 15th straight victory as they head to Friday’s regional championship 7:30 p.m. against Niles North, the last team that defeated Loyola.
Loyola opened up an 11-0 lead against Evanston, with three early three-pointers. After the Wildkits (10-19) cut their deficit to 21-15 early in the second quarter, Loyola closed the half out on a 17-4 run for a seemingly comfortable 38-19 halftime advantage. The Ramblers forced 11 first-half Evanston turnovers.
“We were playing defense at a very high level the first half,” Loyola coach Tom Livatino said. “But then Evanston knocked down shots. You have to credit them.”
Trailing 46-25, Evanston sank three consecutive three-pointers to end the third quarter down 46-34. The Wildkits opened the fourth quarter with seven straight points, including two steals and baskets by Demitrius Bogan to climb to within 46-41 with 6:37 remaining. But Loyola hit six straight free throws followed by a driving lay-up from Richie Wehman (6 points) to grab a 54-41 advantage.
“Loyola is a really good team. Well coached,” Evanston coach Mike Ellis said. “We went on a good run, but we had some tired legs.”
Jack Morrissey led Loyola with 16 points (three three-pointers), while James Clarke added 12. Will Jones scored 10 points to pace Evanston. Jackson Mihevc sank three second half three-pointers for his nine points off the bench for the Wildkits.
Loyola was 20-26 from the free throw line, while Evanston was 8-9.