The Cardinal Ritter College Prep Lions added to their extensive trophy case last year by winning the Class 3 state championship in boys’ basketball.
It was a record-setting performance for the Lions as they defeated Charleston 88-32 in the state championship game. The 2021 Lions have their sights set on another state championship this season as then enter the week with a 12-3 record. Cardinal Ritter is currently ranked No. 1 in the current Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 5 rankings. The Lions will be competing in the postseason in Class 5 for the first time this season due to their past success at Class 2 and 3.
Led by head coach Ryan Johnson, Cardinal Ritter has continued its winning ways while battling its always-tough schedule, which includes Class 6 state contenders Springfield Kickapoo, Chaminade and CBC, Class 5 contender DeSmet and Class 1 state power South Iron, among others.
The leading scorer for the Lions is 6’3” senior Marion Fleming, a four-year starter who is averaging 20 points and four rebounds a game. Fleming is a versatile player who can dominate in the low posts like a forward or handle the ball and make jump shots like a guard.
A pair of juniors have also stepped in to become impact players in their first season with the Lions. Robert Lewis is a 6’8’ forward who is averaging 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds a game. He is an excellent athlete who can throw down dunks, hit jump shots and crash the offensive boards. Braxton Stacker is a 6’4” guard, who transferred to Ritter from Belleville East, where he was one of the top young players in the metro east. He is currently averaging 11 points a game.
The point guard is 6’0” senior Illyass “Biscuit” Harris, who averages six points a game while providing leadership on the floor. The Lions have had to adjust on the fly with the loss of starting guard Luther Burden, who recently transferred to East St. Louis. Burden was averaging 12 points a game at the time of his departure.
A trio of guards who are filling in the gap in Burden’s absence are junior Jordan Nichols and seniors Nyjahl Vaughn and Willie Davis. Providing more size up front is 6’8” senior forward Josh Robinson.
Metro East season is underway
After waiting on the sidelines for the past two months, the athletes on the metro-east Illinois side finally got a chance to begin their basketball season last weekend. The Covid-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 IHSA state tournament as well as all of the fall sports in the state.
With the season in the metro-east now officially underway, here are some of the top boys and girls basketball players to watch.
Tommie Williams (Belleville West): The 6’4” senior guard averaged 14.6 points and 6.4 rebounds as a junior.
Brennen Waller (Edwardsville): The 6’5” senior returns after averaging 19 points and five rebounds while shooting 44 percent from 3-point range.
Macaleab Rich (East St. Louis): The 6’6” sophomore averaged 10 points and six rebounds during his impact freshman season.
Ethyn Brown (Belleville East): The 6’2” senior guard averaged 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals a game as a junior.
Nate Hall (Collinsville): The 6’8” senior forward averaged seven points a game for a 31-win team that won a regional championship last season.
Sydney Harris (Edwardsville): The 6’0” junior guard averaged 15.7 points and shot 41 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.
Elle Evans (Edwardsville): The 6’0” junior forward averaged 8.2 points and four rebounds a game as a sophomore.
Anaya Davis (Althoff): The 5’10” senior forward averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds as a junior.
Tyler Butler (Belleville East): The 5’10” senior forward averaged 12.6 points and 9.9 rebounds as a junior.
Amelia Bell (O’Fallon): The 6’0” senior forward averaged 12.2 points and 6.8 rebounds as a junior.
Shakara McCline (East St. Louis): The junior guard averaged 13.5 points a game as as a sophomore.
Big Games this Weekend
University City at CBC, Thursday, 7 p.m.
Webster Groves at Marquette (girls), Friday, 5:30 p.m.
Hickman at Vashon, Saturday, 3 p.m.
CBC at MICDS, Saturday, 3 p.m.
Cardinal Ritter at Lift for Life (girls), Saturday, 7 p.m.