By Dan Ruane
Reggie Johnson had his orders from his coach. Play smart and the rest of the team will follow.Johnson executed those orders brilliantly in helping St. Joseph upset St. Rita 61-54 in a Catholic League North battle in Westchester. The win avenged a 60-44 loss to the Mustangs in mid-December.(Gene Pingatore) talked to me about taking leadership, Johnson said. I took ownership of this game and played smart. I was leading by example.In the first game, St. Rita guard Tony Hicks scored 24 points and the Mustangs (14-9, 8-2) cruised to an easy victory. This time around, the senior guard had Johnson in his grill at every turn. Hicks was held to 12 points and fouled out of the game late in the fourth quarter.I was impressed by the fact that Reggie shut down Hicks, Pingatore said. He made him work to get the ball and we told him dont help out on anyone else stay with Hicks.Rita trailed for most of the game until the Mustangs started forcing turnovers in the fourth quarter to take a brief lead at 48-47 on DeAires Blackwells three point play midway through the quarter.Johnson responded to that by driving to the basket on consecutive drives only to be fouled and knock down all four free throws. Johnson was a perfect 9-for-9 from the line and the Chargers (16-8, 7-3) went 20-for-23 from the line for the game. Johnson was the leading scorer with 21 points.The free throws were huge for us, Johnson said. We werent a good team at the beginning of the year but we keep improving with every game.St. Joseph took its initial lead in the second quarter when it opened up a 22-12 lead. A. J. Patty was a force on defense during that run with four blocked shots forcing the Mustangs to shoot from the outside. Patty, who is 6-8, finished the game with 15 rebounds and five blocked shots.Cullen Foulks led the Mustangs with 13 points and Victor Law came off the bench to score eight points in the second half.Paul Turner registered 11 points for the Chargers who are now 12-3 since the Christmas tournament.
By Dan Ruane