LaSALLE – Oftentimes it’s not how you start a game, but how you finish. Fortunately for Mendota, that was the case in its opening game of the regional.
The Trojans broke out of the gates like a tortoise, but gradually gained the speed of a hare until they had finally put away Rock Falls, 60-48, in the semifinals of the LaSalle-Peru Class 3A Regional on March 4 at LaSalle.
Mendota and Rock Falls had just played each other in the regular season finale, and the Trojans needed overtime to fend off the pesky Rockets. So Mendota knew it was in for a dogfight when the two teams went at each other just one week later, and the opening round was a knockout for Rock Falls.
The Rockets raced out to a 24-11 lead after the first quarter and the top-seeded Trojans were in trouble. Fortunately for Mendota, there were three quarters left, and those final three frames were total opposites for both teams than the first. After scoring 24 points in the first period, Rock Falls managed only 24 points the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Mendota’s offense picked up steam in the second quarter and kept gaining momentum as the game went on.
The Trojans managed to cut a 13-point deficit down to four, 27-23, at the half, and then they finally overtook the Rockets in the third quarter, leading 38-36 heading to the fourth. In the final eight minutes, Mendota outscored Rock Falls, 22-12, to win going away.
“We showed some toughness early as Rock Falls came out on fire,” noted MHS coach Jan Thompson. “We stuck to our game plan and eventually battled back to take the lead. It’s tough to beat a team three times, but our kids played with a lot of confidence.”
James Carroll led the scoring attack for Mendota with 21 points, followed by Mark Prescott with 14 and Joe LaShonse with 12.
Sam Bowne hauled down 12 rebounds, while Prescott had three assists and Ryan Reeder collected two steals.
Mendota dominated the glass, 34-21, and committed 15 turnovers compared to 12 for Rock Falls.
The Trojans connected on 42 percent of their field goal attempts and the Rockets hit at a 35 percent clip.