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Boys Baskeetball: After slow start, St. Rita bounces Brother Rice

St. Rita’s Charles Matthews commits an over-and-back violatiSaturday against Brother Rice.  | Jeff Vorva/For Sun-Times Media

St. Rita’s Charles Matthews commits an over-and-back violation Saturday against Brother Rice. | Jeff Vorva/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 3, 2014 5:53PM



The halftime talk in the St. Rita locker room centered around defense.

Talk turned to action and the No. 21-ranked Mustangs came out and held Brother Rice to just 12 second-half points en route to a road 50-35 victory Saturday afternoon in a Catholic League Blue battle.

Former Mustang Quinn Niego torched his ex-teammates for 15 first-half points and the Crusaders (10-10, 4-5) held a 24-22 halftime lead. But the Mustangs (10-6, 6-1) turned up the defensive heat in the second half and held him to four points while the Crusaders shot 4-of-16 in the second half.

“Going into the locker room it was pretty obvious we had to stop him,” senior Victor Law said. “He was hot and we couldn’t let him get any hotter. Taking him out of the game was a big part of our plan. We switched our screens against him and different players guarded him.’’

“We put different people on him and used our size advantage,” St. Rita coach Gary DeCesare said. “We used Victor and Charles [Matthews] and Treston [Forbes] on him. Our guys really dug down and did a great job.’’

St. Rita, which missed eight of its first nine shots to start the game, heated up in the third quarter, outscoring the Crusaders 15-4 in the third. The Mustangs shot 11 of 16 in the second half.

Law finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Forbes had 10 points and three steals and Matthews had 10 points. Dominque Matthews, who had 27 points in Friday’s 65-56 victory over Hales, had seven points — all in the final 11 minutes of the contest.

St. Rita has a three-game winning streak and hopes for more after playing a rough schedule with games in showcases in other states.

“It’s all about March and that’s why we play a tough schedule,” DeCesare said. “We’ve played a lot of different styles of basketball and we’re ready to play anything that is thrown at us.’’

Brother Rice had a two-game win streak snapped. After Niego’s 19-point output, no other Crusader had more than four points.

“I’m proud of our kids — they played really hard,” Crusaders coach Rick Harrigan said. “Nobody gave us a chance. The turning point was at the end of the half ­— we wanted to go up five and we didn’t play smart and broke down a bit.

“St. Rita has a really good team. If you told me we would have a two-point lead at half, I would have paid for it. If you told me we would have a two-point lead at the end of the game, I would have paid more.’’



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