STILLMAN VALLEY – Good defense wins games in a lot of sports. A blanketing Port Byron Riverdale defense against Mendota was a perfect example of it in basketball.
The Lady Trojans were under attack for 32 minutes as the Lady Rams held Mendota’s offense 18 points below its season scoring average. The end result was a 39-31 Riverdale victory in the semifinals of the Stillman Valley Class 2A Regional on Feb. 11.
Mendota concluded the season with a 21-11 record. Riverdale (25-3) went on to defeat Stillman Valley in the championship game, 45-35.
After the dust settled, only three of Mendota’s players managed to dent the scoreboard. Amellia Bromenschenkel led the Lady Trojans with 21 points, while Jenna O’Donnell and Daisy Arteaga added five apiece.
After leading 19-17 at the half, Mendota tallied just 12 points in the second half while Riverdale heated up with 22 over the final two periods.
“We battled hard and got some good looks at the basket, but they just didn’t fall,” said Mendota coach John Hansen. “We didn’t execute perfectly on offense, but it wasn’t a bad effort. Props to Riverdale on their man defense.”
The two teams played an even first quarter, with the score knotted up at 9-all at the end of one. Riverdale held a 13-12 advantage in the second period when the Lady Trojans went on a 7-0 run to grab a 19-13 lead. Bromenschenkel sandwiched a two-pointer and a three-pointer around an Arteaga hoop after a steal and Mendota enjoyed the biggest lead by either team with 1:48 left in the half. But Riverdale managed two free throws and a basket to close the gap to two (19-17) at the break.
Mendota got the first points of the second half on a hoop by Bromenschenkel just 26 seconds in, but as it turned out, the Lady Trojans scored only 10 more points the rest of the game. A Sidney Garrett deuce started an 8-0 scoring streak for the Lady Rams to put them up 25-21 halfway through the quarter. Bromenschenkel connected on one of two free throws to silence the run and end a Mendota scoring drought that reached almost six minutes.
Riverdale’s Brooke Smeltzly and O’Donnell exchanged three-pointers, and then Garrett knocked down a two with 16 seconds left to propel the Lady Rams to a 30-25 lead heading to the fourth frame.
Another Smeltzly trey to start the fourth gave Riverdale its biggest lead of the game (33-25). Bromenschenkel followed with back-to-back buckets to cut the margin to four, but that was as close as the Lady Trojans could get. Mendota went the next six minutes, 36 seconds without scoring until Arteaga’s basket with six seconds left provided the final margin.
“It was tough to see it end knowing how close we were to bigger things,” added Hansen. “But I’m proud of a really good season overall.”