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Matt Sullivan isn’t on the court to make friends.
The Loyola senior plays angry and with purpose. In last week’s 57-52 loss to New Trier, Sullivan showed just how effective his style can be when properly executed.
“He’s nasty, very physical,” said Loyola junior point James Clarke, who’s played with Sullivan for two seasons on varsity. “He brings it every day, and we love that kind of guy on our team.”
With the Ramblers down 22, Sullivan was a one-man comeback machine. The 6-foot-6 forward scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half, spearheading the surge that nearly resulted in a victory. He also added six rebounds, three steals, three assists and one blocked shot.
“Unbelievably active and physical,” Loyola coach Tom Livatino said. “He did everything we wanted him to do, and he did it from the beginning of the game. He was really a bright spot.”
Sullivan stepped into the spotlight during the third quarter when he scored baskets on three consecutive possessions.
One of the his best plays came in the fourth when he grabbed an offensive rebound and passed the ball to Clarke for a layup. Less than a minute later, he rebounded his own miss on a free throw and scored.
“I think that was one of the best games of my life,” said Sullivan, who fouled out with 35.3 seconds to go. “That’s how I want to continue to play.”
As a junior, Sullivan came off the bench as the team’s backup post player. This season, Sullivan’s in the starting lineup and is capable of playing all over the floor.
“Our post players have to be multi-dimensional,” Livatino said. “(Matt) has a lot of perimeter skills, and that goes well with what we do.”
Sullivan said he worked on distributing the ball much as anything in the offseason.
“I’ve always been a natural rebounder,” he said. “I feel like I have become a better passer over the past couple of years.”
As good as Sullivan and the Ramblers played in the second half, especially the final eight minutes, they ultimately lost the game.
But if the Ramblers play to their potential, good results will follow. They closed out the tournament with a 64-51 win over Glenbrook South to take third place and entered this week 3-1.
“I think so,” Sullivan said. “We definitely can play better than we have so far.”
Loyola travels to Hales Franciscan on Friday.