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The Dons are back

Notre Dame smothers rival Loyola for huge bounce-back win on Saturday

"We really wanted to get this one. We have been playing against those guys from Loyola since we were little kids. It always feels great to beat Loyola."

Those were the postgame comments from Notre Dame senior forward Troy D'Amico.

In the second of three consecutive games versus the fiercest rivals of the Notre Dame Dons, the Loyola Ramblers invaded Niles on Saturday afternoon.

There were about 25 Dons' parents in attendance, yet one would have thought the cavernous Notre Dame gymnasium was packed to the rafters.

The Loyola sophomore team was a more raucous cheering section for the Ramblers than anything envisioned back home in Wilmette.

In the first half, the place sounded like a Rambler home game with the Ramblers ahead 20-17.

Until the Dons decided to play some defense. Defense with a capital D.

The Ramblers (11-5) were held to five points in the third quarter and just one made free throw in the final stanza as the Dons (13-2) roared past Loyola 38-26 to bounce-back in style after the disappointing ESCC loss on Friday at St. Viator.

"Everyone contributed to our outstanding defensive effort today," Notre Dame senior Anthony Sayles said. "It was a complete team victory. We had to bounce back from last night's loss."

With the game tied at 20-20, Dons' sophomore Sonny Williams (six points) buried a pair of three-point bombs to give Notre Dame a lead they would never relinquish at 28-22.

"I felt my big shots really gave us a lift," Williams said. "It felt good to knock down the shots."

The feisty Ramblers would just not go away.

After turning the Ramblers over on successive possessions and clinging to a 28-26 lead with 6:06 remaining,

it seemed as the Notre Dame faithful was about to witness De' ja' vu.

The 2019-20 IHSA Class 3A No.1 Dons, who many people felt were the best high school basketball team in

Illinois appeared.

D'Amico (12 points) buried a long-range bomb for three, assist Sayles. (six points, six rebounds, four steals, three assists).

The the "The Flying Frenchman," Dons' senior Louis Lesmond (11 points) hit from 25-feet out for three and then bust out for an easy layup for two for a 36-26 lead, with 3:20 left.

Exiting the gymnasium were about 15 bass-baritone voiced Loyola Rambler sophomore basketball players.

It sure got quiet on that side of the gym.

"Sonny (Williams) really gave us a lift with his two 3's in the third quarter," Lesmond said. "It felt great to knock down our shots to break the open the game in the fourth quarter. We really played great defense as well."

Sayles scored to close out the 10-0 game-ending run for the Dons.

"It was great to see us bounce back from that tough loss last night at St.Viator," Notre Dame coach Kevin Clancy said. "We played outstanding defense. What did Loyola get, one point in the fourth quarter? Sonny ignited our rally and we finally were able to knock down our shots.

On Monday night at 6:30 in Niles, the Maine South Hawks (13-6) will renew their rivalry with the Dons.

"Maine South drives you crazy with the way Tony's (Lavorato's) kids play defense," Clancy said. "It should be another great rivalry game."


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