Mendota staged a second-half rally, but still came up short to Rockford Christian, 34-29, in the opening round of the Big Northern Conference Girls’ Basketball Tournament on March 5 at Rockford.
The Lady Trojans had trouble taking care of the basketball in the first half and they found themselves down, 11-4, after the first eight-minute session. Christian’s lead swelled to 20-6 at one point in the second quarter before Mendota scored the last five points of the half to head to the locker room down by nine (20-11).
Mendota took the intermission to regroup and it was a different team in the second half. The Lady Trojans trimmed three points off the deficit in the third and were as close as two points (24-22) at one juncture to get themselves within striking distance in the fourth. Mendota made it a one possession game (32-29) with under a minute to play, but that was as close as it could get.
“Too many turnovers in the first half dug us a hole,” said Mendota coach John Hansen. “We got it together and made a heck of a game out of it. I was proud of our battle after a bad start.”
Daisy Arteaga and Jaelyn Fitzgerald topped Mendota scorers with seven points apiece. Izabella Nanez chipped in with six points and was second on the team with 10 rebounds. Paige Manning led the Lady Trojans with 12 caroms, while Jenna O’Donnell had three steals and two assists. Fitzgerald blocked three shots and grabbed six boards.
Mendota let a late lead slip away and fell to Oregon, 34-33, in the second round of the conference tournament on March 8 at Oregon.
The Lady Trojans took a 26-23 advantage to the fourth quarter and were ahead by as many as four points late in the fourth, but they couldn’t hold on for the win.
“Missed free throws and shots in the paint hurt us,” said Hansen. “Our defense was solid the last three quarters, but our transition defense could’ve been much better.”
Mendota trailed 9-5 after one period and 21-16 at the half before outscoring Oregon, 10-2, in the third to take the lead.
Arteaga poured in four three-pointers on her way to a 19-point effort for the Lady Trojans. O’Donnell provided six points, four assists and seven steals, while Nanez hauled down eight rebounds.
Mendota (3-10) entertained North Boone in the final game of the tournament and of the season on Tuesday.