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It was ‘Show Time’ at Moraine Valley: St. Rita defeats Simeon 51-46 in game presented by ESPN2

The gym was rocking.

The fans were hollering.

The cameras were rolling.

The coach of the top college basketball program in the nation was in the house.

And people all over the world were watching.

It was Show Time at Moraine Valley Community College. At least that’s what one St. Rita fan wrote on her poster and held it up throughout the game.

But it lived up to the billing.{{more}}

The Palos Hills college hosted a battle of two of the best teams in the country last Friday night in the gym of its new Health, Recreation and Fitness building and St. Rita pulled off a 51-46 victory over Simeon on a game shown on ESPN2.

Simeon fans were disappointed as their team, ranked 12th in the nation by USA Today, took the loss.

St. Rita fans, however, were thrilled.

Stoic-faced John Calipari, the coach of the top-ranked University of Kentucky, should have been happy as one of his prized recruits, St. Rita’s Charles Matthews, had 17 points and 13 rebounds in the game.

And Moraine Valley officials were ecstatic the game was a boon to the school and a chance time to show off its new and sleek athletic facility.

But the game, which started at 5:30 p.m., not just appear overnight. There was a lot of work and thought put into making it happen.

ÒIt’s been a six-week process. We had to make sure we got the game, we had to prove to them that we can handle it with the staff,” said Bill Finn, the Moraine Valley Community College athletic director. ÒWe got a crew of around 40 people set up the cameras, the microphones, cabling and other intricate stuff.”

Long before the crowd was screaming for dunks and blocks, workers were in the quiet gym getting set up. Work on the gym began Thursday night and continued in earnest on Friday morning.

ÒI’ve been working here since 10 a.m.,” Moraine Valley student worker Richard Gregg Jr. said Friday afternoon. ÒIt’s going to be a big game so it’s gonna be exciting. I’m an athlete myself so it’s exciting that ESPN is here.”

Finn was hoping more than 2,000 fans would show up.

ÒOur (men’s basketball) games usually attract between 150 and 250 people, but this game should have at least 2,000 people watching, as well as a national audience,” he said hours before tipoff.

The attendance was 2,600.

ÒThe main challenge for the school at this point is to make sure the facility is clean, staffed, and that there is enough change for those who are buying tickets.”

Moraine Valley’s new athletic center officially opened in March, with the previous gymnasium being used occasionally for practice.

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