For the second time this season, Trinity (17-5) lost to their conference rival Loyola (24-3)?#34;this past Saturday by the disappointing score of 66-45. With both teams ranked in the top 20 in the Chicago Tribune poll, the Loyola Ramblers showed off why they are #5, and why Trinity, at #11, will probably drop down a notch or two after the loss.

“We didn’t play the game we thought we would. We thought it would be much closer. The girls worked hard in practice, but once we hit the floor, things weren’t working our way. Loyola is a very good team,” remarked Trinity coach Mike Ciancio after the game.

The teams played fairly even in the first quarter, with the Ramblers holding the edge at 17-13. Lykendra Johnson had a quick start for Trinity, scoring seven points in the quarter. Then the second period started, and the Ramblers went off on a 7?#34;0 run. Trinity used a zone defense to try to contain Loyola’s inside game, but 4 three-pointers by Loyola only helped to showcase their outside game. They went up on Trinity by 11 at the half.

Loyola stayed firmly in the driver’s seat in the second half. Trinity’s switch to a man-to-man defense forced some turnovers, but they were not able to capitalize with enough points to get them back in the game and Loyola’s lead grew as the clock ticked on.

Lykendra Johnson, who averaged 18 points a game in the tourney, was forced to sit out the final few minutes after fouling out. “We weren’t playing our game today. Yesterday in practice we had great intensity for today, but we didn’t come out like we did in practice,” said a disappointed Johnson. Down the stretch, Loyola made good on most of their free throws, leaving no doubt about the outcome. This is the third consecutive conference title for Loyola.

For Trinity, Johnson had her second consecutive double-double of the tourney, with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Monica Albano had nine points and Toni Carter had six. For Loyola, Ashley Thomas had 18 points, Brittany McCoy 15, and Brittnie Mugnaini had 13.

Trinity defeated St Ignatius 45?#34;39 in the semi-final. Marche Smith hit a three to start the game in which the Blazers never trailed. Trinity had a 13-point lead going into the final quarter when Ignatius caught fire from three-point land, hitting four in a row to tighten up the score. Johnson hit two free throws with 13 seconds on the clock to seal the win. She had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Toni Carter chipped in 8 points, while Jackie Marzullo had 6 and Smith 5.

In the quarterfinals, Trinity had no trouble dispensing with Queen of Peace by a score of 61?#34;26. Although she played limited minutes, Lykendra Johnson led all players on the floor with 19 points. Senior Bridget Kloak had an excellent game, scoring 11 points.

The Blazers have two more games this week before the start of the IHSA State Tournament. When asked where she wants to be in early March, Johnson remarked, “Downstate.”

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