By: John Nee '93
It was a banner week in Mustang Sports last week as the varsity basketball team clinched their second straight Catholic League White title while the JV hockey team brought home the DiCristina Cup and the varsity swim team had their best ever finish in the sectional swim meet.
In his first season at the helm, Head Coach Roshawn Russell has taken an inexperienced team and made them champions of the Catholic League. Last Tuesday night at St. Rita in front of a raucous, sold-out home crowd the Mustangs battled arch-rival Mt. Carmel with the CCL title on the line. It was also senior night as the St. Rita Community honored seven senior basketball players: Jayden Sutherland, Alec Millender, Kevin Murney, Connor Serven, Dalen Horace, Dwayne Jervier, and Adebayo Kuye and four senior managers: Jordan Gilliam, Casey Pender, Aiden Wilson, and Miggy Zavala.
The Mustangs started quickly against the over-matched Caravan and took a 16-9 lead at the end of the first and a 33-18 lead into the halftime locker room. Coach Russell ran out an all-senior starting lineup, and they didn't disappoint as seldom-used forward Dwayne Jervier provided an early spark with six quick points in the paint. Overall the seniors would score all but nine of the Mustangs' points on the evening as they cruised to a convincing 76-58 win over Mt. Carmel.
Senior guard Alec Millender once again led the way for St. Rita with a career-high 32 points as he shot (12-20) from the field including (5-12) from beyond the arc. Senior Kevin Murney and Connor Serven added 10 points each while combining for 15 rebounds on the evening.
Afterwards, the big crowd was treated to a net-cutting ceremony while "We Are the Champions" blasted in the background as each player one-by-one climbed the ladder to retrieve their piece of the CCL championship net.
On Friday the Mustangs travelled to Providence St. Mel as they closed out the regular season with a 67-45 win finishing a successful regular season with a final record of (20-10, 11-4). Alec Millender led the Mustangs with a game-high 29 points.
St. Rita will now take this week off to prepare for the IHSA Class 4A state playoffs where they have earned the #6 seed in the LaGrange (Lyons Township) Sectional. They will play #11 seed Franklin Park-Northlake (Leyden) on Wednesday March 4th at Proviso West 7pm tipoff.
The JV hockey team won the DiCristina Cup over the weekend sweeping Marist 2-0 in the finals. The young Mustangs also won the regular season title as well.
In their playoff run, the JV Mustangs defeated Marmion Academy 8-0 in the opening round and Providence Catholic 1-0 in the semifinals.
The "Skating" Mustangs would battle Marist in a best-of-three format for the title as they beat the Redhawks 3-2 in game one before clinching the title in a dominating 6-0 victory on Saturday night to complete the sweep.
Junior goaltender Jimmy Rallo was outstanding between the pipes posting three shutouts in the playoffs. RJ Swaw registered the hat trick in Saturday's clincher over Marist, but overall the young squad had balanced scoring throughout their run as nine different Mustang skaters lit the lamp during their playoff run. Next up for the JV Mustangs is the state playoffs March 1st vs New Trier at Bensenville Ice Arena 8:20am puck drop.
In the sectional swim meet Saturday at Fenwick the Medley Relay (senior Jake Kuska, senior Sebastian Chiadez , sophomore Homer Oliveras, and senior Chris Jiminez) finished third overall while the 200yd Freestyle Relay (Chiadez, Spencer Ryan, Jiminez, and Oliveras) also finished third. Individually, in the 200yd IM, Kuska finished fifth and Ryan sixth. In the 50yd free Jiminez finished fifth while Olivares would finish fourth overall in the 100yd Butterfly. Kuska also finished fourth in the 100yd Backstroke while freshman John Masiliunas finished 5th in the 500yd Freestyle.
Up next for the "Swimming" Mustangs is Water Polo season when they are expected to be one of the top teams in the state of Illinois as they will look to capture St. Rita's first ever Water Polo state championship.
Check back in two weeks as we will recap the varsity basketball team's run through the Class 4A state playoffs, and we will preview what should be another exciting spring sports season.