Mendota and LaSalle-Peru hooked up in a wild duel from start to finish that finally ended up in Mendota’s favor, 66-64, in varsity girls’ basketball action on Feb. 5 at the MHS gym.
Neither team could put much separation between itself and its opponent. L-P held a 30-27 halftime lead, but Mendota fought back to tie the count after three (47-47) to set the stage for a heart-stopping fourth quarter.
The Lady Trojans scored the first five points of the fourth frame on a bucket by Amellia Bromenschenkel and a three-pointer from Anna Bokus. L-P then reeled off nine straight points to move in front, 56-52. The Lady Cavs still owned a four-point margin (60-56) with 1:50 to go when three straight steals by Mendota resulted in two baskets and two free throws by Bromenschenkel to push the Lady Trojans into the lead, 62-60, with 40 seconds left.
L-P’s Lauren Klein made good on a conventional three-point play with 24 seconds on the clock to give her team a 63-62 lead. Bromenschenkel was then fouled at the 10.4 second mark and she connected on both free throws to put the Lady Trojans back in front, 64-63. On L-P’s ensuing possession, Klein was fouled and she could only sink one of two free throws, and the game was tied at 64-all. The Lady Cavs were whistled for a foul on Bromenschenkel on a Mendota inbounds pass and the junior calmly drained both free throws with 3.3 seconds left. L-P’s Sara Peters attempted a three-pointer at the buzzer, but it missed the mark.
“What a fun game to coach,” said Mendota’s John Hansen. “That being said, I lost three years of my life and gained 16 grays due to the stress from this one.
“I loved the way we handled being down late and did what we needed to win. Bromenschenkel was a monster down the stretch. Her competitor came out and she willed us to this win.”
Bromenschenkel finished with 43 points, including scoring 16 of Mendota’s 19 fourth-quarter points. She also led with 16 rebounds and tied Jenna O’Donnell with four assists apiece. O’Donnell and Daisy Arteaga each added eight points, while Bokus came away with six steals.
Ten of L-P’s 22 field goals came from three-point range, including seven by freshman Brooklyn Fickek, who led her team with 21 tallies.
Mendota tried to dig itself out of a big first-quarter hole, but couldn’t quite get there and it fell to Rockford Christian, 54-51, in the Big Northern Conference and regular season finale on Feb. 6 at Rockford. The Lady Trojans ended the conference season with a 5-5 record.
Christian opened up an 18-7 lead after the opening stanza, which forced Mendota to play catch-up. It did trim the margin down to six at halftime (23-17), and then crept closer in the third, climbing to within one (33-32) with one quarter to play.
Both teams’ offenses clicked in the fourth frame, and the Lady Trojans were finally able to overcome Christian with just over a minute left to play, but the Royal Lions connected on a pair of three-pointers in the final minute to pull out the victory.
“We had a brutal first half,” said Hansen. “We played hard enough to at least keep it close. We just couldn’t make up for the crummy first quarter.”
Bromenschenkel led the Lady Trojans with 22 points, 10 rebounds, eight steals and four assists. Bokus dropped in five three-pointers for 15 points.