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Charles Matthews drops 32 points, lifts St. Rita over St. Joseph

St. Rita’s Charles Matthews and Simeon’s D.J. Williams are very good friends that play AAU club basketball together for the Meanstreets program.

They are also this season’s lightning rods. They are the two seniors full of promise and potential, both with high-major scholarships, both with plenty still to prove on the high school basketball court.

Matthews had a rough first few games of the season, but was ready to make adjustments.

‘‘I spent the week watching a lot of film,’’ Matthews said. ‘‘I wasn’t used to things being so physical. I saw I needed to make quicker moves after seeing the mistakes on film.’’

St. Joseph was without point guard Glynn Watson and strong, athletic senior Joffery Brown (who would have guarded Matthews) on Friday. But those aren’t things Matthews can’t control. The Kentucky recruit took care of business, scoring 32 points to lead No. 6 St. Rita to an 80-61 win over the No. 3 Chargers.

The Mustangs (3-1) led for the entire game. It wasn’t just redemption for Matthews, the entire team needed a bounce back after a dismal performance Saturday at the Chicago Elite Classic.

‘‘I thought we did some good things tonight,’’ St. Rita coach Gary DeCesare said. ‘‘(On Saturday at the Chicago Elite Classic) I had a 102 degree fever and the team played the way I felt.’’

Watson, a Nebraska recruit, injured his ankle at the end of the overtime win against Hales on Wednesday. He expects to be back in time for the Proviso West Holiday Tournament on December 22.

Brown was sitting for disciplinary reasons and center Nick Rakocevic did not start because he missed a practice.

‘‘We’ve been through that stuff too,’’ DeCesare said. ‘‘Kids have to learn if they don’t do what they have to do they don’t play. That’s the difference between AAU and high school.”

The Mustangs were also without a key player, starting center Myles Carter, who suffered a wrist and back injury Saturday.

So both teams were far from full strength.

Jordan Ash scored 25 points and grabbed nine boards for the Chargers (7-1), but without Watson’s ball handling they turned the ball over 23 times. Rakocevic never seemed to get into the flow of the game and finished with eight points and seven rebounds.

‘‘We got our butts kicked,’’ St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore said. ‘‘But you have to move on.’’

Point guard Armani Chaney added 19 points for St. Rita and Kain Harris scored 17. Matthews shot 9-for-23 from the floor and had 10 rebounds and four steals. It was his best performance of the young season, and maybe the jolt of confidence he needs to turn things around for himself and his team.

Email: mobrien@suntimes.com

Twitter: @Michaelsobrien