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Before it captured the Catholic League North title last season, it had been a decade since St. Rita won a conference basketball crown.
That drought came before Charles Matthews was around, though, and the sophomore plans on making championships an annual occurrence for the Mustangs.
Matthews scored 18 points and hit big shot after big shot Friday as host St. Rita clinched the Catholic League South crown with a 66-58 win over Seton.
“Last year, we won the conference led by Tony Hicks,” Matthews said. “With him gone, all of us wanted to show we could do it again. Hopefully we can take this momentum into the playoffs and win state.”
Matthews’ older brother Dominique led the Mustangs (16-7, 9-2) with 21 points and five rebounds. He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, going 10-for-10 from the line to help seal the win. He finished the game 17-for-20 from the charity stripe.
Mark Weems Jr. paced Seton (17-10, 8-3) with 20 points.
The Mustangs got some separation in what had been a back-and-forth contest with a 9-3 run over the final minute of the second quarter and first four minutes of the third to take a 37-28 lead.
Vic Law (13 points, 8 rebounds) hit a pair of three-pointers during the stretch while the Mustangs held Seton without a field goal and forced five turnovers.
“We just had to keep them from driving to the basket,” St. Rita coach Gary DeCesare said. “You have to be able to play defense and grind out these wins.
“This is a great league and the conference title is a great accomplishment.”
Seton pulled within 37-33 late in the third but Charles Matthews responded, connecting on a runner then burying a three-pointer.
“I’ve just been in the gym a lot working on my shot,” Charles Matthews said. “I have conference in my shot. I knew in warmups that I had it tonight.”
The Sting could not get within four points in the fourth thanks to the sharpshooting of Dominique Matthews at the free-throw line. He made all six of his attempts over the final 1:17 to seal the title.
“I just had to stay focused,” he said. “You’ve got to make those big free throws.”
The win concludes a huge week for the Mustangs, who blew out Brother Rice 79-57 Tuesday.
“It’s been a great week,” Dominique Matthews said. “We’ve been playing really hard and to get back-to-back championships is big.”
Alex Foster (10 points, 6 rebounds) and Kamal Shasi (9 points) contributed for Seton.