St. Rita’s is full of future college basketball players. The Mustangs feature three of the top juniors in the state and all three have already committed to college. Morez Johnson (Illinois), James Brown (North Carolina) and Knojus Indrusitis (Iowa State) were top-tier recruits, with the nation’s best college programs courting them for years.

St. Rita II’s Melvin Bell is in the same boat, widely considered one of the top three players in his class.

DeAndre Craig was on the other side of the court Tuesday in Mount Carmel. Caravan Sr. was one of the best guards on the field for four years, but his recruiting never started. Craig signed with Denver in November.

,[Denver] Biggest steal in the country,” said Mount Carmel coach Phil Seagroves. “From day one, I thought he was a Big Ten guard. I thought he could play at Loyola, and he was overlooked there. I think Thought he could play at DePaul and was overlooked there.

“DeAndre is fine with that. He’s really excited about Denver, and he has a great coming up.

Craig was dominant on the floor against St. Rita, scoring 33 points to lead the Caravan to an 84–76 win.

Craig relentlessly attacked the rim, going straight into the Mustangs’ strong post defense of Johnson (6-9) and Brown (6-10). 6-1 Craig absorbed the contact and scored after time.

He was shooting 9-for-13 and also contributed four steals, three assists and five rebounds.

“They have power five players on their team and that always gives you a little boost,” Craig said. “But I just went out there and played like it was a Tuesday night against any other Catholic League team.”

It was not. Fans are packed into the gym at Mount Carmel. Both schools had large student sections and the game was on live television.

Caravan senior Anthony Ciaravino said, “Definitely the biggest crowd I’ve seen here.” “It was crazy, just crazy. I can’t put into words how it felt to be out in that crowd. You could feel the energy. It was really great to play in that.”

Ciaravino scored 13 points and his brother, Junior Angelo Ciaravino, added 14 points. Lee Marks scored 14 and grabbed four rebounds for Mount Carmel.

“Our team chemistry is getting better and today we showed we can compete with the best,” said Anthony Ciaravino.

Mount Carmel (20-2, 8-0 Catholic League Blue) led by eight at halftime, and St. Rita’s (13-9, 6-1) never posed a significant threat in the second half. A three-pointer by Bell pulled the Mustangs within five points with 3:42 remaining but that was as close as they would get.

Johnson continues to show why he may be the best prospect in the state, regardless of class. He had 27 points and 12 rebounds. But his size and strength in the post and shot-blocking ability made Craig’s attacks on the basket even more impressive.

Indrusaitis finished with 16 points and Brown added 10 points and eight rebounds for St. Rita’s. Bell scored 16 runs.

The Mustangs began the season nationally ranked and played a tough schedule against teams from all over the country. But St. Rita’s results against local teams have yet to match the preseason hype. The Mustangs have lost to Joliet West, Simeon, Young and now Mount Carmel. He defeated Brother Rice in December. St. Rita’s only game against a Super 25 team is February 10 against No. 25 Loyola.

“It’s very disappointing, but we’re not down,” said St. Rita’s coach Roshan Russell. “I’ll be honest, we’re a little excited. If you look at our schedule, game for game, there’s no one schedule like ours. That being said, we definitely need to start calling out games like this. We are as good as any other player in the state and we will put up a strong showing in the playoffs.”

Watch St. Rita’s last minutes at Mount Carmel:



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