Star guard Charles Matthews was aggressive but largely ineffective on offense, and St. Rita turned the ball over 19 times. None of that really mattered though, not with the ferocious rebounding and defending the Mustangs did Friday at Hales to knock off the Spartans 55-48.
“We had that many turnovers?” St. Rita senior Brandon McRoy said. “I didn’t notice. Armani (Chaney) keeps us calm. He does what a point guard is supposed to do.”
Chaney single-handedly took on Hales’ full court press. He filled the stat sheet with 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.
“We are just hungry,” Chaney said. “We want to win more than anyone in the state. In the country. We were prepared for this game.”
The Mustangs were without starting center Myles Carter, a 6-9 senior. St. Rita coach Gary DeCesare said it was a “coaches decision.”
Even without their best big man, St. Rita kept Hales center Johnny Fox from impacting the game. The Mustangs surrounded Fox (five points, six rebounds) with multiple players each time he managed to get the ball in the paint. For most of the season Fox’s tenacious energy has been the key for Hales.
“They did a good job on Johnny Fox,” Hales coach Gary London said. “He’s been the spark for us all season.”
St. Rita led 25-18 at the half. Hales’ charge came early in the fourth quarter. Erion Moore made a 3-pointer, and then Joseph Larry scored a fast break bucket to tie the score at 40.
Chaney was the Mustang to respond, driving to the basket and drawing a foul. He hit one of two free throws and St. Rita (16-2, 8-0 Catholic South) never trailed again.
Matthews finished with nine points and 11 rebounds. He shot 2-for-11 from the field. Senior Brandon McRoy led the Spartans with 16 points and seven rebounds. Kain Harris added 11 points. St. Rita out
rebounded Hales 41-22.
“As long as you play defense and rebound you will be in the game,” DeCesare said. “We have great senior leadership. They don’t falter, they just keep fighting.”
Te’mon Green, a 6-3 sophomore entered in the second half and gave the Mustangs an offensive lift. He scored five consecutive points after Hales had cut the deficit to three points. Green finished with seven
“This is the first time we’ve had senior leadership to helping the young kids,” DeCesare said.
Nick Barnes and Ansar Muhammad both scored eight points for Hales (17-3, 6-2), and Moore added seven.
Fox, Hales’ 6-6 center, can be forgiven if his mind isn’t fully in the game right now. His family’s house burned down on Jan. 21.
“It was devastating,” London said. “I don’t know how he got out there and played (two days later in a win over De La Salle). I’m not sure I could have done that.”
London said that several Hales’ alumni have donated clothes and supplies to the Fox’s. Hales has set up a fund to assist the family. Anyone wishing to donate can Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact