SENECA – Only five players scored but four of them hit double figures as the Mendota Trojans rolled to a 69-52 win over Hall in the opening round of the Seneca Thanksgiving Tournament on Nov. 25.
The Trojans opened up a 21-14 lead after the opening stanza and then widened the gap in the second frame as they outscored Hall, 17-8, to take a 38-22 lead to the locker room. Mendota maintained its 16-point cushion after three periods.
“If I had to say one work that sums everything up, I would say ugly,” said MHS coach Jan Thompson. “However, ugly isn’t as bad when you say ugly but a win. We did several things good early on and also performed poorly at other times.”
Mendota was led in scoring by James Carroll with 21 points, followed by Ryan Reeder with 18. Jake Rod (13) and Mark Prescott (11) also hit double digits.
Sam Bowne paced the squad with eight rebounds, while Carroll and Rod collected seven caroms apiece. Carroll swiped five steals.
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The Trojans took on host Seneca on Nov. 27 and walked away with a 54-44 victory.
After trailing 14-12 at the end of one quarter, the Trojans turned up the heat in the second frame and outscored Seneca, 15-6, to grab a 27-20 advantage at intermission. The Irish tightened the gap (36-32) after three and actually took the lead in the fourth period before Mendota turned the game into a double-digit win.
“We showed great mental toughness,” said Thompson. “I was worried about untested players in a tight game situation, however, my worries were dumb-founded as we showed great mental toughness when we lost the lead with 2:41 remaining.
“Our kids didn’t get excited. They stayed the path and went on an 11-0 run to end the game.”
Carroll lit up the nets for 24 points to pace the Trojans, while Rod had 12 and Reeder 10.
Bowne topped the rebounding column with 12 and Carroll helped out with eight. Carroll and Reeder collected seven and six steals, respectively, while Reeder handed out six assists.
Mendota shot the ball at a cool 32-percent clip and Seneca hit 37 percent of its shots. The Trojans held a huge 36-20 rebounding advantage and committed 13 turnovers compared to 22 for Seneca.
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Mendota could not maintain a halftime lead as Somonauk charged back to defeat the Trojans, 63-59, in the final game of pool play on Nov. 29.
The Trojans turned a one-point lead after the opening stanza into a 27-20 halftime cushion, but the tide turned in the second half. Somonauk climbed to within four after three periods and then poured in 25 fourth-quarter points compared to 18 for MHS to post the come-from-behind victory.
“We played like we ate too much turkey,” said Thompson. “Our team defensive effort was not good. We couldn’t keep players in front of us and we played with a lack of desire.
“Everything we prepared for went out the window. Give Somonauk credit, they outworked us.”
The Trojans had four players in double figures, led by Reeder with 16. Carroll (14), Prescott (12) and Rod (11) were the others in double digits.
Carroll’s seven boards were tops for Mendota, while Prescott had five assists and Carroll doled out two assists.
Somonauk owned a 37-28 rebounding margin. Mendota committed six turnovers while the Bobcats had 10.
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It was Mendota staging the comeback in the championship game of the tournament as it erased an 18-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Illiana Christian, 65-64, on Nov. 30.
The Trojans fell behind 32-24 at the half and had an even deeper hole to climb out of as they trailed 51-36 with just eight minutes to play. Illiana Christian led by as many as 18 in the final frame before Mendota charged back to claim the miraculous win.
“The message was, ‘play Mendota basketball for 32 minutes,’” said Thompson. “The loss to Somonauk really motivated the team. We played a full 32-minute game.
“We never gave up and battled back to take the lead from as many as 18 points back to win by one with 10.8 seconds remaining. We played great defense from midway through the third quarter.”
Carroll topped all scorers with 27 points, followed by Prescott with 13 and Reeder with 12. Reeder and Bowne had nine and eight rebounds, respectively, while Prescott had five assists and four steals.
Mendota had 10 more rebounds than its opponent, 33-23, and committed 16 turnovers, two less than Illiana Christian.
The Trojans (3-1) shot the ball at a 46-percent clip from the floor and Vikings made 34 percent of their shots.