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St. Rita's Vic Law (left) and Myles Carter (center) pursue a rebound against De LaSalle's Marcus White in the first quarter Friday, January 4, 2013, in Chicago. | Frank Polich ~ For Sun-Times Media
St. Rita has nearly as much talent as any basketball program in the state. With a few years under his belt, coach Gary DeCesare has stockpiled players.
Sophomore Charles Matthews is a nationally ranked player. His older brother Dominique, junior Vic Law and sophomore Myles Carter will all also play college basketball.
What the Mustangs don’t have is a leader or an identity. Both DeCesare and Scott Kingsley, the only senior in the starting lineup, struggled to identify St. Rita’s leader.
“Lately I’ve been trying to step up as a leader,” Kingsley said. "I'm one of the only seniors that plays. I think we've been coming together lately as a team."
“I think we are more than one player,” DeCesare said. “With [Charles and Dominique Matthews] I think we have one of the top backcourts in the city.”
DeCesare is right on both counts. The entire team got in on the act in the first quarter, and Law and Charles Matthews stepped up at the end to help the Mustangs beat visiting De La Salle 73-67 Friday.
St. Rita (9-4, 4-1 Catholic South) jumped out to an 18-point lead early in the second quarter, but De La Salle managed to tie it up midway through the third.
“We came out and played well, really turned up our defense,” DeCesare said.
It was close from there, until Charles Matthews stepped up in the final two minutes. He scored on a jumper with 1:35 to play to give the Mustangs a 69-65 lead, then assisted a Kingsley basket and hit two free throws to seal the win.
“[Matthews] is so young,” DeCesare said. “We are trying to get him to learn how to play in foul trouble.”
St. Rita’s early run was the result of a long backcourt.
“They are just big and strong,” De La Salle coach Tom White said. “They caught us with some shorties out there."
Charles Matthews finished with nine points and 10 rebounds. Dominique Matthews scored 13. Kingsley, a transfer from Young, led the way with 16 points and Law added 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
Minnesota recruit Alvin Ellis sparkled for the Meteors (10-5, 3-2), scoring a game-high 25 points. Senior Justin Earls added 12 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore Brandon Hutton, a Simeon transfer, was impressive with eight points, four rebounds and three blocks.