Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Loyola defeated St. Patrick...

...last night, 50-48, to extend its overall record to 14-2. St. Pat's is now 10-5 and was down by as much as 13 points in the first quarter before roaring back to within one point with a minute and a half left in the contest. It turned into a great game!

The cage match was held in St. Patrick's gym on Belmont Avenue in the Portage Park neighborhood of Chicago. St. Pat's, founded in 1861, is the oldest Catholic high school in Chicago and moved to its current location in 1953. The all-boys school boasts such distinguished alums as Ray Meyer, Class of  1933 (above), the legendary DePaul coach, and five of the founding members of the '60s rock group, The New Colony Six.

Loyola, a relative newcomer on the scene, was founded in 1909 when Loyola University relocated from the Near West Side to Rogers Park. (The Academy subsequently moved to the Wilmette campus in 1957.) Formerly all boys, Loyola has been coed for twenty years now, since merging with nearby Marillac in 1994. The North Shore school is not without its famous alums, either, such as Notre Dame coach Johnny Dee, Class of '42 (above), a contemporary of Ray Meyer's, and, from the entertainment world, Bill Murray and Chris O'Donnell.

Now, I know what you're thinking: Wow! Sounds like a great match-up of two old-school Catholic League rivals. Well, kinda, but not exactly. St. Pat's, a member of the CCL since 1913, left with three other Christian Brothers schools in 1950. The Shamrocks rejoined in 1974, but left again in 2002 to join the East Suburban Catholic Conference. Still, it felt like an old Catholic League rivalry to me last night.

The St. Pat's student body turned out in full-force, wearing Blackhawks jerseys. I couldn't follow it exactly, but one of the school's alums is connected to the NHL franchise and was on hand to receive an honor. Shortly after, some random old guy (below) sang a song I didn't recognize at mid-court just before the National Anthem. It seemed to go on forever, but the crowd just sat in rapt attention. (It was all very confusing to an outsider like me.)

And then the game began. As I mentioned, the Ramblers got off to a quick start (just like last week against St. Rita) and went into the locker room at halftime with a 24-20 lead. After intermission, the Shamrocks fought back, and while never taking the lead the entire night, pulled within a solitary point near the very end.

Loyola emerged victorious, though, and now have a perfect 14-0 record against teams from Illinois. (Their two losses came on a recent road trip to Florida.) The 2013-14 Ramblers remind me a little of last year's Stevenson team, which made a Cinderella run to the finals in Peoria. Like the 2012-13 Patriots, the Loyola squad is a bunch of suburban kids, not too tall, who are well-coached and can shoot. Can the Ramblers make it to state? I don't know, but they're definitely my dark horse.

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