When high school basketball fans think back to the 1980s, programs like Quincy, Providence St. Mel, East St. Louis Lincoln and the arrival of city powers King and Simeon are easy to think back on.
The 1990s brought us memorable basketball giants in Peoria Manual and Thornton, a few steamrolling Proviso East teams and the continued dominance of King.
The first 10 years of the 2000s included Glenbrook North, Peoria High and the beginning of a Simeon juggernaut.
Now, with the calendar inching closer to wrapping up an unforgettable 2020, the end of this month closes out another decade. And it’s another high school basketball time period to look back on.
This list is comprised of the 50 winningest programs over the past 10 years, starting with the 2010-11 season and concluding with the 2019-20 season. Every team in every class throughout the Chicago area will be broken down in a variety of ways. But total wins, with winning percentage used as tie-breaker, determined the rankings.
We present No. 38 St. Rita today and will add one program a day going forward.
38. ST. RITA: 189-108
Decade’s biggest storyline: The rise of the St. Rita program under Gary DeCesare was easily the biggest storyline of the past 10 years.
In the 40 years prior to DeCesare taking over the program in 2009-10, St. Rita had one Catholic League championship and had won three regional titles. Under DeCesare there was an influx of individual talent with a surplus of Division I players. The decade success included six different Catholic League championships and four regional titles.
Underrated highlight: The program rise under DeCesare also included an upgraded schedule and vast opportunities for travel for the players in the program. St. Rita took a back seat to no one when it came to new and exotic road trips. During the decade the Mustangs have played in events and tournaments in the Bahamas, Hawaii, Alaska, Toronto, New Orleans, Miami, New York and Las Vegas.
Player of the Decade: Charles Matthews (2013)
All-Decade Team: Tony Hicks (2012), Dominique Matthews (2014), Vic Law (2014), Charles Matthews (2015) and Alec Millender (2020)
Other decade news and highlights:
-Beating one of the big boys on national TV was a bright spot. The decade rise included a 51-46 high-profile win over Simeon in December of 2014 on ESPN2.
-St. Rita had two players who finished as top 100 players in the country in the decade in Charles Matthews (No. 50 in 2015 final rankings) and Vic Law (No. 90 in 2014 final rankings).
-The Mustangs made their presence felt in the Catholic League over the course of the decade, sharing a Catholic League North title in 2012 and winning multiple Catholic League South titles (2013, 2014, 2015) and Catholic League White titles (2019 and 2020).
-Tony Hicks was the Chicago Catholic League Player of the Year in 2012 and put together a monster season, averaging 26 points a game.
-The Mustangs won the 2017 Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic title.