St. Rita drops Curie behind Armani Chaney’s clutch free throws

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St. Rita point guard Armani Chaney had a rough week.

His grandfather, Reginald Leonard, passed away on Thanksgiving. So Chaney could be forgiven if basketball wasn’t the top thing on his mind as he stood at the free-throw line with seven seconds to play and the game in his hands on Sunday.

‘‘I was kind of nervous,’’ Chaney said. ‘‘I knew I had to knock them down for my team and for my grandfather. I wanted to get the win for him.’’

The Tennessee State recruit drained both free throws to give the Mustangs a 53-51 win over Curie in front of a sold out crowd at the Team Rose Classic at Morton College in Cicero.

Curie had a chance to tie, but junior guard Devin Gage missed two free throws with two seconds left.

Chaney led St. Rita (1-0) with 15 points and Kain Harris, a transfer from Morgan Park, added 12. Besides Chaney, the hero down the stretch for the Mustangs was Kentucky recruit Charles Matthews.

Matthews only scored two points in the first half, but came up big when his team needed him most. The senior scored eight points in the final four minutes of the game to finish with 13.

‘‘I just had to make sure to lead the team,” Matthews said. ‘‘I wasn’t going to let myself get down after the first half.’’

‘‘It doesn’t matter how many points Charles scores,” St. Rita coach Gary Decesare said. ‘‘He can control the game without scoring.

‘‘He’s a tremendous defensive player, he just has a great defensive mind. One of the best I’ve ever coached.”

St. Rita dominated the boards, out rebounding Curie (1-1) 35-18.

‘‘It might take a few games for them to adjust to Cliff Alexander being gone,’’ Condors coach Mike Oliver said. ‘‘They didn’t have to worry about rebounding the past few years. It’s going to have to be a team effort this season. Everyone is going to have to put a body on somebody and block out.’’

Josh Stamps led the Condors with 17 points and Gage added 10.

In an earlier game, Crete-Monee beat Evanston 76-71 in overtime. Jeremiah Matthews led the Warriors (2-2) with 24 points and Tyler Williams added 21. Sophomore Dwayne Rose, Derrick Rose’s nephew, scored 15 in his varsity debut.

Highly-regarded sophomore Nojel Eastern led the Wildkits (3-2) with 26 points and nine rebounds.

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