Updated: March 8, 2013 7:00AM
WILMETTE — Either immune to or unaware of jinxes, Barb Kucera sent her son, Kevin Kucera, a text message early last week with a photo of him and Chris Sullivan holding the Jesuit Cup, a trophy awarded to the winner of the Loyola-St. Ignatius boys basketball game.
The picture was taken when Kevin and Chris were in seventh grade after the Ramblers beat the Wolfpack at Loyola University’s Gentile Center in 2009. Kevin and Chris’ older brothers — Brian and Matt, respectively — were senior starters on that club.
Kevin, now a junior starting guard at Loyola, immediately forwarded the text to Chris, also a junior guard for the Ramblers.
“I told him it would be so cool if we could get another picture like this,” said Kevin, who lives in Evanston.
Seeing the photo again gave Chris, a Wilmette resident, the inspiration he needed.
“I remember taking that picture and saying this is something I wanted to do when I was older,” said Chris, who got to know Kevin while the two attended the games of their older brothers. “I wanted to be a part of that. It pumped me up to see that.”
Kevin and Chris helped Loyola get back the Cup for the first time since 2009 with Friday’s 38-22 win.
“So awesome,” said Kevin, who scored four points, including the last two free throws of the game. “I’m so happy I can’t really put it into words. We wanted to win this for our seniors. It was their last chance.”
Loyola, winners of 10 in a row, closed out the contest on a 16-1 run over the final 10 minutes to move into a tie for first place with the Wolfpack in the Catholic North. The Ramblers (17-5 overall, 7-2 conference) play Gordon Tech on Friday and St. Joseph on Feb. 15 in their final two league games.
“To have an impact on this game was special,” Kevin said. “Coming into this year, nothing was guaranteed to me. I didn’t think I would be starting.”
Brian Kucera and Matt Sullivan were major contributors the last time Loyola beat St. Ignatius. In fact, Brian, a senior at Iowa, said he played his best game as a Rambler by scoring a career-high 22 points in the 54-50 win over the Wolfpack.
“That’s a game I always will remember,” said Brian, who watched this year’s game online at his Iowa City apartment. “I texted Kevin right after the game to congratulate him. To be able to celebrate that win is special. It’s cool he got to experience that.”
Matt Sullivan, a senior player at Brown, was Loyola’s go-to player that season. He scored six points in the 2009 victory. With Friday’s win, Chris became the third brother in his family to capture the Jesuit Cup. Peter Sullivan, a 2007 graduate, also earned that honor during his prep days.
“This has been in my family for a long time,” said Chris, who played Friday but didn’t register a point. “I guess there was a little more pressure on me because of that, but I was confident about our team going into the game. Peter texted me after the game to congratulate me on keeping the family tradition alive.”
Not long after Kevin and Chris returned to the floor Friday, Barb was there waiting. With an eye for detail, she had the two teammates and friends pose with the Jesuit Cup in exactly the same fashion as they did in 2009.
“The second one was a lot more special,” Chris said. “It’s way better.”