Mendota defenders Larkin O’Donnell, left, and Amellia Bromenschenkel apply pressure defense to Stillman Valley’s Kayla Boyd on Jan. 4 at the MHS gym. (Reporter photo)
MENDOTA – What a way to start the new year for the Mendota Lady Trojans. While it was brutally frigid outside, Mendota and Stillman Valley warmed things up inside the MHS gym in a thrilling Big Northern Conference battle.
Mendota let a modest lead it held throughout the game slip away in the fourth quarter, but it still managed to pull out a 41-36 overtime victory over the Cardinals on Jan. 4.
The Lady Trojans came out with guns blazing and grabbed a 17-9 lead after the opening stanza. They maintained that eight-point cushion at halftime and after three quarters. But Stillman Valley slowly chipped away at the deficit in the fourth quarter until it finally took its first lead with four minutes left.
The Cardinals were up 36-33 with under a minute to play when Mendota scored the final three points of regulation to send the game to overtime. Alex Barrera sank a free throw and Brandy Delao banked in a shot with 3.9 seconds left to even the score. Mendota had a chance to win in regulation when Stillman Valley committed a turnover after the inbounds pass, but two shots at the basket missed their mark.
It was all Lady Trojans in overtime as Barrera converted back-to-back buckets and Amellia Bromenschenkel netted a free throw, while Stillman Valley went scoreless. It was Mendota’s first conference win in three outings this season.
“It was a great start on both ends,” said Mendota coach John Hansen. “We scrapped and clawed at the end and were able to pull out a big conference win.”
Mendota had a balanced scoring attack, led by Bromenschenkel and Phalen Hessenberger with 14 points apiece. Barrera finished with 11 tallies. The same was true in the rebounding department with Abby Phalen topping the chart with 11, followed by Bromenschenkel with 10 and Hessenberger with eight. Bromenschenkel also supplied five steals.
The Lady Trojans kept up their winning ways with a dominating 52-24 win over Streator in nonconference action on Jan. 6 at the MHS gym.
After leading by just five points (12-7) at the end of one, Mendota took off in the second quarter and opened up a 34-9 halftime margin.
“It was a huge team effort and we did a great job on the defensive glass,” said Hansen.
Bromenschenkel paced the offense with 14 points, followed by Barrera with 11 markers. Phalen hauled down a team-leading 13 rebounds and Bromenschenkel collected five steals to help Mendota improve to 9-7 on the season.