By: John Nee, '93
Coach Gary DeCesare’s varsity basketball team flew under the radar in the pre-season polls; but a (4-0) start to the season found them ranked in the state’s top 20 with the media calling them the surprise team of the season.
After a tough loss in the ESCC/CCL Challenge to a good Marian Catholic team, the Mustangs struggled over the Christmas break going (2-4) against some tough competition around the country in Louisville and Miami.
Clinging to a (6-5) record, the Mustangs returned home looking to put a stranglehold on the Catholic League South, a division they had won in four of the previous five seasons.
A lackluster effort on the road against St. Laurence and a tough home loss to Brother Rice to begin the second half of the schedule left St. Rita under .500 at (6-7) and at a crossroads in their season.
Things began to change a week ago Friday at St. Francis DeSales as senior Paul Kingsley broke out in a big way scoring 27 points as the Mustangs once again moved back to the .500 mark with a road win over the Pioneers.
That win has springboarded Coach Gary DeCesare’s team to four straight victories with a shot at a signature win tonight at Marist in the annual Callahan/Griffin Classic.
Last Sunday St. Rita followed up their road win at DeSales with a convincing win over Corliss of the Chicago Public League at Thornton High School in the MLK Shootout. Blowout home wins over Rich Central and Catholic League South rival Mt. Carmel with senior Rashaad Williams leading the way last week have set the stage for Tuesday night's huge matchup.
Marist comes into Tuesday’s Callahan/Griffin Classic with a record of (20-1, 4-0) in first place in the always-tough East Suburban Catholic Conference. After dominating the Classic in its first years of existence, St. Rita (10-7) dropped last year’s Classic game at home to the Redhawks. Tuesday’s game will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. in Mount Greenwood.