Boys Basketball: St. Rita defeats St. Joseph
By Eli Kaberon For Sun-Times Media February 22, 2013 11:32PM
Updated: March 25, 2013 6:32AM
The playoff seeds have been set and the conference champions of the Catholic League divisions have been decided. Still, Friday night’s game in Westchester between conference foes St. Rita and St. Joseph was intense.
The No. 6 Mustangs, who won the Catholic League South, came away with a 55-50 road victory, using strong defense and easy scoring in transition for the win.
St. Rita, the fifth seed in the tough Class 4A Argo Sectional, finished its regular season with an 18-7 record.
“I thought that was a great Catholic League basketball game. Both teams were playing hard,” Mustangs coach Gary DeCesare said. “I kept telling the team, ‘It’s all about defensive rebounding. And you have to make your free throws.’ ”
Neither team led by more than five points in the second half.
St. Joseph held a 28-23 lead early in the third quarter, but physical defense and an efficient transition game by the Mustangs turned the tide. St. Rita forward Vic Law had three steals that were turned into breakaway dunks, giving the momentum to the Mustangs.
With Illinois coach John Groce watching from the stands, Law, a highly touted junior, finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
The game, however, came down to the wire.
With St. Rita leading by three points with 38 seconds remaining, the Chargers looked to even things up, putting the ball in the hands of guard Paul Turner. The sophomore rose for what could have been a game-tying three-pointer, but the shot was swatted away by St. Rita guard Charles Matthews.
“Paul is a really good player. I really respect him and all the things he can do,” Matthews said. “I had it in my mind I was going to stop him. I had no doubt Paul was going to shoot it, and I just rose up and made a play.”
St. Joseph had one more chance, but Jordan Ash misfired with 14 seconds on the clock. Law secured the rebound, and Dominique Matthews sank two free throws with nine seconds left to ice the win.
The Matthews brothers had impressive games. Charles, a sophomore, scored 13 points. Dominique, a junior, had 12.
St. Joseph (16-11) was led by Karriem Simmons, A.J. Patty and Ash, who each scored nine points.