The now 15-7 Cardinal Ritter College Prep Lions squared off against the 7-13 St. Dominic Crusaders for an Archdiocesan Athletic Association (AAA) match up Tuesday night in St. Louis.
The game featured stand out performances from 6 ft sophomore Mario Fleming, currently leading the team with 13.4 ppg and junior guard Glenn Valentin who was 4-5 from outside the arc.
The Crusaders were no easy task for the Lions and did well to keep up to Ritter’s pace. Flemings and his camp took advantage of turnovers early and found gritty ways to score despite Dominic’s tight defensive style.
The first half saw a tight back and forth between the conference rivals with big blocks from St. Dominic who were finding rebounds and converting every trip down court. Ritter’s talent was seeing a hard time fighting through the Crusaders tough defense.
The lions walked into the locker room at half only up by 7 points. “It was simply effort; we didn’t have any effort plays in the first half,” remarked Cardinal Ritter coach Ryan Johnson.
Johnson continues, “We just weren’t us in the first half. We didn’t stick to our game plan. We had to get back to doing exactly what we set out to do in the first half that we didn’t complete.”
The lions opened up the second half with more confidence and effort and were able to slowly increase their lead. A pair of monster dunks from Junior guard Gary Clark and Mario Fleming made a statement early in the 3rd quarter.
“In the second half we were able to capitalize on being a little more aggressive,” said coach Johnson.
Junior Glenn Valentine found his spot early and picked his shots wisely. Valentine went 4-5 from 3 points, including a big three to end the third quarter and tying Fleming for the game high, 20 points.
Despite the increase in lead, Dominic did not falter and the game was never outside of reach. Sophomore Anthony Lewis found space and hit multiple big threes to help keep Dominic from falling too far behind.
The forth saw Ritter picking up and controlling the pace and extending the gap to 24, the biggest lead of the night.
The shift in momentum after half time was a catalyst for the rest of the game. The Crusaders were unable to keep the Lions from finding room on the floor to sink important baskets.
“They fought through it,” says Johnson, “It was one of those nights where it could have been a loss or a lack of focus but they fought through it.”
Cardinal Ritter will face a tough St. Mary’s team at home on Friday. St. Mary’s is fresh off huge win against nationally ranked Chaminade College Prep. The remainder of their season feature Borgia and Father Toltan (Columbia, Missouri).