Loyola downs gutsy Maine South
Known as a terrific defensive team all season, top-seeded Loyola used that key element again on Thursday night and it brought the Ramblers a seventh sectional triumph in program history.
Led by senior Angelina Giordano (15 points), senior Nora Stanton (11) and sophomore Paige Engels (9), the top-seeded Ramblers (31-3) posted a 42-34 victory over No. 2 Maine South (24-10) in the Class 4A Glenbrook South sectional title game in Glenview.
The Ramblers will face Stevenson on Monday at the Hersey supersectional to be played at Robert Morris University in Arlington Heights at 7 p.m.
"Congratulations to Loyola, its coaching staff and their girls," said Hawks coach Jeff Hamann. "They earned it. They deserved it. They're a great basketball team, so hats of to them.
"That's a really, really good defensive team. They switch off screens and we knew that coming in. We knew it was going to be physical and that they were going they were going to give us ball pressure."
Trailing 4-3 after a rebound layup by Cornell recruit Emily Pape (18 points), Loyola took the lead for good on a free throw by Angelina Giordano, a driving layup by Paige Engels and a 3-pointer by Nora Stanton with 1:25 left in the first quarter to make it 9-4.
"They were tough and gave us some trouble," Engels said. "But we kept in the game and prevailed. Emily Pape is a great player and we wish her the best at Cornell."
Two free throws by sophomore Ava Blagojevioch (7 points) got the Hawks to within 9-6 after one quarter.
Loyola's defense kept the pressure in the second quarter. Engels' steal led to a fastbreak layup by Morgan Van Horn. Moments later, Stanton stole the ball in the Hawks' backcourt and flipped it to Engels for a layup and 13-6 lead.
Meegan Fahy's 3-pointer with 5:04 left to get South back to within 13-9.
Van Horn's nifty bounce pass into Stanton resulted in a layup to make it 15-9 before Pape's 6-footer from the baseline closed the deficit to 15-11.
"We kept battling back," Hamann said. "We'd cut it to 2 or to 3 points on several occasions, and then they'd come down and hit a big shot. And that's what a good team does."
Two free throws by Giordano made it 17-11 with 5.8 seconds left before Fahy's two free throws with 3.1 seconds made it 17-12 at intermission.
Engels' scoop bank extended the advantage to 19-11 before South received a layup from freshman Caitlin Leyden (5 points) and back-to-back layups by Pape to get within 19-18 with 3:21 left in the third quarter.
The Ramblers pushed ahead again 24-18 with a baseline drive by Stanton, a fastbreak layup by Giordano and a free throw by Stanton with 1:56 left. Leyden's free throw made it 24-19 after three quarters.
A 3-pointer by Giordano and 16-footer by Van Horn put Loyola ahead 29-22 with 6:49 left in the game.
Blagojevich grabbed a rebound and went coast to coast for a fadeaway bank shot. She completed the 3-point play to get South to within 32-30 with four minutes left.
A beautiful pass from Van Horn set up Engels for a clean layup that made it 37-32 in favor of Loyola with 2:21 left.
Loyola made 5 of 7 free throws in the final 1:51 to seal it.
It wrapped up an impressive season for the Hawks and Hamann, who completed his fifth season with an 83-31 record in Park Ridge.
Maine South was the Central Suburban League champs and won its 21st regional in program history.
"This was just a really good high school basketball game with two good teams getting after it," Hamann said. " In a sectional, the team that makes more shots and in big moments wins. And we just didn't connect on some shots we normally do. If we do, it's a different game but unfortunately they did fall tonight. I'm so proud of our girls.
"They've come so far this season and our eight seniors (Pape, Sydney Purcell, Kate Rachmiel, Katie Brander, Caroline Barker, Evelyn O'Leary, Margaret Mizwicki and Paseir Lohens) are the reason why."