Great Defense Beats Great Offense


Rosie Talaga

Senior Bennett Kwiecinksi shoots a free throw in the final minutes against the Evanston Wildkits. Clutch free throw shooting and lock out defense would help the Ramblers defeat their Evanston rivals.

Rosie Talaga, Writer

The lockdown defense of the Loyola Academy Ramblers took on the high powered offense of the Evanston Wildkits, in a boys basketball game on Tuesday night at Evanston Township High School.

On Tuesday night, the Ramblers held true to their highly-rated defense by defeating the Wildkits in a low scoring game at only 41-33.

Going into the game, Evanston was ranked second in the state, and Loyola was ranked seventh, making Evanston the favorite of the night. The Ramblers thrive very much on the defensive side of the court, giving up (on average) only 33.8 points to their opponents each game, the lowest in the league.

On the other hand, the Wildkits’ offensive averages 62.8, which is ten points higher than Loyola’s average.

Loyola Seniors, Jake Welsh and Billy Palmer, spoke about how the team made goals prior to the start of the season, and one of the most driving goals this season was to win every rivalry game. Evanston was the last game that stood in the Ramblers’ way of coming out victorious in this goal, so, to say the least, Loyola had high intensity.

Before the game, Senior, Jake Welsh, described the team’s mentality as being “really hungry for this win.

Senior Billy Palmer, described it as “knowing we are the danger.” Billy Palmer says he, and all his teammates, take the rivalry very personally because he believes that the Evanston team “does not think of us as a threat.”

The Ramblers came out, right at the tip off, ready to prove that they were a threat and started off on a 5-0 run. Blake Peters on the Wildkits and Will Pujals on the Ramblers both had very strong first halves, going back and forth scoring for their teams. At the end of the first half, the Ramblers were up by five, which showed the importance of starting strong.

Jaylin Gibson and Blake Peters both made big shots and drives in the third quarter that kept the Wildkits in the game, slowly decreasing the Ramblers’ lead to only three.

Will Pujals got his team out of the scoring drought by hitting a big three and causing a major momentum shift in favor of the Ramblers.

The Ramblers were up 29-22 at the start of the fourth quarter, and a three by Matty Mangan and a slam dunk by Jordan Kwiecinski frustrated the Wildkits, making it a very physical game.

Emotions got the best of the Wilkits, and many fouls were called on Blake Peters, Jaylin Gibson, and Isaiah Holden in the final minutes that repeatedly brought the Ramblers to the free throw line.

Billy Palmer and Bennett Kwiecinski  made crucial free throws at the end of the game increasing the final score to be 41-33, making this the first time in nine years that Loyola has beaten Evanston.

In the last minute, Coach Livatino put in all seniors, including Joe McKenna and Will Loverdi for the first time this night, to let the oldest players finish off the game.

Welsh’s mother says that she tears up when she sees all the seniors on the court together, knowing that, for most of the players, it is their last year playing basketball.

She is someone who has watched the team grow over the past four years, and she believes that, through the leadership of Coach Livatino, the standard for each player to “have each other’s backs, on and off the court,” is what makes them such a successful team.

Jake agreed with his mother by describing his teammates as his “best friends” and “lifelong friends,” which helps them play better together as a team.

Whether it was the lock-down defense or the close-knit team environment, the Loyola Ramblers have broken the nine-year curse and are finally victorious over the Evanston Wildkits.