Chicago Sun-Times

Streak­ing Ram­blers stun Sham­rocks

- MICHAEL O’BRIEN Email: mo­brien@suntimes.com

Loy­ola and Ra­mar Evans were un­der no il­lu­sions about the task in front of them Satur­day at the War on the Shore in Evanston. No. 10 St. Pa­trick is a tal­ented, ath­letic team that has im­proved through­out the sea­son.

The Sham­rocks vaulted into the top 10 of the Su­per 25 af­ter knock­ing off Orr two weeks ago. That vic­tory on the West Side tipped St. Pa­trick as a se­ri­ous threat to watch in March.

“They are bet­ter than us,” Evans said. “They have more skilled play­ers than us.”

That’s Evans af­ter the Ram­blers knocked off the Sham­rocks 69- 60.

“The rea­son we won is be­cause we fought, we had heart and we made all the right plays,” Evans said. “The ef­fort plays, the in­tan­gi­bles.”

It was a foul- laden game. St. Pa­trick’s high- fly­ing se­nior, Al­ton Thomp­son, was ejected af­ter pick­ing up his se­cond tech­ni­cal in the fourth quar­ter. Through­out the game, the Ram­blers seemed to han­dle the of­fi­ci­at­ing with calmer heads, ex­cept for coach Tom Li­vatino.

“[ Li­vatino] is a good ex­am­ple of what not to do,” Evans said. “But his No. 1 rule is not to say any­thing to the refs, to leave that to him. When you start talk­ing, like St. Pat’s did a lit­tle bit, things can get worse. You just shut up and take the bad call and maybe you will get a good one later.”

Evans led Loy­ola with 19 points and five re­bounds. Ju­nior Kevin Cun­ning­ham added 18 points.

“[ Cun­ning­ham] is re­ally good; he’s a very un­der­rated player,” Li­vatino said. ‘‘ He’s like a lot of our guards in the past. He can han­dle it re­ally good and he can shoot it.”

The Sham­rocks ( 18- 4) led by eight points at the half. Loy­ola ( 15- 5) took con­trol with a 15- 1 run in the third quar­ter in which Thomp­son picked up his first tech­ni­cal foul.

Thomp­son led St. Pa­trick with 15 points. He trans­ferred from California and is clearly one of the area’s top ath­letes. Xavier Pin­son scored 14, and se­nior Lau­rence Mer­ritt added 10 points.

The Ram­blers have won 10 con­sec­u­tive games. They were 5- 5 at one point.

“[ At the hol­i­day tour­na­ment in Florida], we be­came closer,” Evans said. “We won the cham­pi­onship, and af­ter that, com­ing back to Chicago, we re­al­ized we could con­tinue to beat teams like St. Pat’s.”

Most of Loy­ola’s losses are to qual­ity teams. Cun­ning­ham says the team had to “learn how to fin­ish.” Li­vatino thinks his se­niorheavy squad just fi­nally fig­ured things out.

“We started play­ing a lit­tle more like Loy­ola,” Li­vatino said. “We have to play a cer­tain way, and if we don’t play that way, we aren’t going to be suc­cess­ful. We have to guard, and we have to run our of­fense full speed.”

No. 17 Evanston knocked off Home­wood- Floss­moor 60- 48 in the last game of the event. Chris Hamil led the Wild­kits ( 17- 3) with 17 points, and No­jel East­ern added 14.

Evanston had a 36- 33 lead at half­time. A bas­ket from East­ern opened the fourth quar­ter and ig­nited an 11- 2 run to seal the win.

“We ex­pected them to come out hard; we didn’t let them rat­tle us,” East­ern said. “We calmed down and han­dled the pres­sure well.”

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ michael­so­brien.

 ?? | WORSOM ROBIN­SON/ FOR THE SUN- TIMES ?? Loy­ola’s Ra­mar Evans, who led the Ram­blers with 19 points, drives to the bas­ket against St. Pa­trick.
| WORSOM ROBIN­SON/ FOR THE SUN- TIMES Loy­ola’s Ra­mar Evans, who led the Ram­blers with 19 points, drives to the bas­ket against St. Pa­trick.
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