Clarke makes his mark as Loyola prevails
It took over four quarters for Loyola's James Clarke to find his rhythm. But when the Ramblers junior did, he helped deliver his team to a 54-51 overtime victory over Deerfield in the fifth-place game at the Wheeling Hardwood Classic on Saturday.
"I was kind of struggling through most of the game," said Clarke, who scored Loyola's first 5 points in overtime and blocked a 3-point shot at the buzzer. "Coach told me to stay aggressive and he was running plays though me. It gave me the confidence that I needed."
Loyola (9-5) appeared to be in command late in the third quarter when the Ramblers built a 41-32 advantage. Deerfied (7-7) then rallied behind the play of Michael Alfieri (21 points), who scored 6 consecutive points as the Warriors closed to 41-38 with 6:27 to play.
Loyola led 45-38 with 4:48 left when Deerfield went on a 7-0 to tie the game at 45 with 3:47 left. Loyola appeared to have the game in hand when Jack Morrissey, who came into the game with a 19 point average in the tournament, scored his only points of the game on a driving layup with 1:35 left in regulation.
Deerfield tied it with 56 seconds left on a pair of free throws by Eric Porter. Loyola had two chances to win it the closing seconds, but Clarke missed a three and Matt Sullivan failed on the putback at the buzzer.
Clarke (9 points) took over in overtime, hitting a scooping layup and then following up with a 3 to put the Ramblers up 52-48 with 1:49 left. A three by Jack Gurvey (9 points) made it 52-51 with 35.5 seconds left. Sullivan (10 points) then nailed 2 free throws with 24.2 seconds left and Clarke iced it by blocking Samuel Kuznetsky's 3-pointer with 1 second left.
"It was a good win," Loyola coach Tom Livatino said. "I didn't think we played well. But I did think that our play in overtime was very good."
Kevin Kucera led Loyola with 13 points on 4 three-pointers while Chris Sullivan chipped in 10 points.
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