MENDOTA – Something had to give as two teams searching for their first win of the season met in Mendota’s home opener. Unfortunately for the Trojans, it was visiting Princeton that prevailed, 55-43, in varsity basketball action on Nov. 27 at the MHS gym.
The Tigers jumped out to a 16-9 first-quarter lead and held a 30-22 halftime advantage. Mendota began chipping away at the deficit in the third quarter and eventually tied the game at 37-37. But the Trojans never could get over the hump and Princeton tallied nine straight points as part of 13-2 and 16-4 runs to post the double-digit victory.
Emiliano Arteaga led the Trojans with 12 points on four three-pointers. Joel Escatel was next with nine points and he led with six rebounds. Eddie Perez dished out four assists.
Mendota connected on 32 percent of its field goal attempts, 50 percent of its free throws and had 23 rebounds. Princeton shot 40 percent from the floor, 63 percent from the stripe and grabbed 40 boards. The Trojans committed 18 turnovers, two less than Princeton.
A valiant comeback against a quality team came up short as the Trojans suffered a 61-57 setback to Rockford Christian in the Big Northern Conference opener on Nov. 29 at the MHS gym.
Rockford Christian, which entered the contest with a 5-0 record, looked like it was going to blow the Trojans out of the gym. The Royal Lions dominated the action early as they held an 18-5 lead after the first period. Christian continued to separate itself from the Trojans, opening its largest lead of the night, 36-14, with 3:11 left in the first half. But Mendota was able to cut into the deficit over the final three minutes of the half and trailed 40-26 heading to the locker room.
The Trojan comeback continued in the second half. Mendota outscored Christian, 20-12, in the third quarter to slice the margin to six (52-46) with eight minutes left to play. The Trojans got as close as three (54-51) early in the fourth on a driving layup by Perez, but they could get no closer.
Arteaga topped the scoring column with 16 points, while Perez finished with 15. Perez also had six assists and Joel Figueroa handled 11 rebounds.
The Trojans (0-6, 0-1) hit at a 39-percent clip from the field and 75 percent from the line. Christian was a chilly 28 percent from the floor and 57 percent from the stripe. Each team had 39 rebounds, while Mendota committed 24 turnovers compared to 10 for the Royal Lions.