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Dixon too much for Trojans in regional finals

Posted: Tuesday, Mar 11th, 2014


Mendota's James Carrol has his shot contested by Dixon's Isaiah Roby in the regional championship game. (Reporter photo)


LaSALLE – When Mendota barely hung on to defeat Dixon back in January, there was no denying the talent and athleticism the Dukes possessed. So when the the regional tournament pairings came out in mid-February and it was likely the two teams would meet again, the Trojans would no doubt have to be at the top of their game to beat the Dukes a second time.

The two teams did indeed lock horns again and Dixon's prowess was too much for the Trojans this time around as it pulled away in the fourth quarter to post a 55-44 victory over Mendota to claim the title of LaSalle-Peru Class 3A Regional on March 7 at LaSalle.

The Trojans closed out a highly-successful 21-9 campaign, the most wins by an MHS team since the 1995-96 campaign when Mendota captured 28 and advanced to the Elite Eight. Dixon moved on to the sectional with an equally impressive 23-6 mark.

“I am so very proud to be a part of such a fun team to coach and watch,” said Trojan coach JanThompson. “It's been a long time since a team at Mendota has won 21 games. This was a great team to be a part of.”

Neither Mendota nor Dixon could do much to separate themselves from each other in the first half, with the Dukes owning slim leads of 16-13 after one period and 26-24 at the half. One of the biggest storylines of the first two frames was Dixon super sophomore Isaiah Roby picking up his third foul.

Both teams were waiting to go on that one big scoring run that would open some daylight, and Dixon finally did in the third quarter. After Mendota's Joe LaShonse scored off a steal to start the second half to tie the game at 26-26, the Dukes regained the advantage on a basket by Kyle LeBlanc to start what would be a 9-0 run by Dixon. Matt Coffey followed that with a three-point bomb and then Laron Carr tallied back-to-back hoops, the first on a goal-tending call against the Trojans, and suddenly it was 35-26 with 3:36 left in the quarter.

A LaShonse hoop broke the mini drought by the Trojans, and then things began looking brighter for Mendota when Roby went to the pines with his fourth foul. Sam Bowne added two free throws for Mendota and James Carroll tacked on a bucket to close out the third on a 6-0 run to make it a 35-32 game with eight minutes left to play.

Roby didn't sit long with his four fouls as he returned to the floor just over a minute into the fourth quarter, and he made a difference on both ends of the court. Dixon scored the first five points of the frame to stretch the lead back to eight, 40-32, before the Trojans took advantage of some shoddy passing by the Dukes to make one last run. Mendota got as close as five (49-44) with 1:09 to go on a Mark Prescott three-pointer, but Dixon received two free throws from Carr, a dunk by Roby and two more free tosses by Roby to close out the game.

Dixon finished the fourth quarter hitting all 10 of its charity tosses.

The Trojans were led in scoring by LaShonse with 14 points. Carroll, who drew a lot of attention from Dixon defenders, was next with 11. Bowne led with 10 rebounds, while Carroll had five assists and four steals.

Mendota owned a 30-22 rebounding advantage, while both teams committed 17 turnovers. The Trojans connected on only 27 percent of their field goal attempts while Dixon hit at a 52 percent clip.

“Here at Mendota we play one way – hard for 32 minutes,” stated Thompson. “Win or lose, our boys can feel proud of themselves and what they left on that court. I am proud of my team and our effort.

“This season we won the Seneca Thanksgiving Tournament, were runners-up at the Hall Colmone Classic, we were third in the Big Northern West Division with a record of 8-4, and finally we made it to our third straight regional championship game. This was just a tremendous season.”












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