OREGON — The Mendota girls basketball team toppled Hall 62-37 Friday to earn a trip to the championship semifinals of the Oregon Tip-Off Classic after a 2-0 finish in Pool B play.
In the nightcap in Oregon, Marquette dropped its second straight game in Pool D with a 40-33 setback against Rockford Christian.
Mendota (2-0) will face Pool A champions and Big Northern Conference foe Rockford Lutheran at 2 p.m. today in the Blackhawk Center.
Win or lose in the championship semifinals, the Lady Trojans will play again at 7 tonight.
“That will be a good one for us,” Mendota coach Kevin Geldon said. “It’s going to be a good barometer for us.”
Hall (0-2), which fell to Fulton Thursday, is set to take on Milledgville at 11 this morning in semifinal action in the ninth-place bracket to be held in the Blackhawk Center, while the Lady Crusaders (0-2) will join the Lady Red Devils in the ninth-place bracket with a contest against Polo at 11 a.m. in the Oregon High School gym.
Mendota 62, Hall 37
The Lady Trojans used a tough full-court press to wreak havoc on Hall early, forcing 15 first-half turnovers and 29 turnovers in all.
The trapping defensive pressure helped fuel a 13-0 run late in the first quarter and early in the second quarter.
Trailing 13-12 with less than a minute to play in the first quarter, Mendota took the lead on a putback from Amy Devitt off her own miss inside and upped the advantage to 16-13 on another Devitt bucket in the paint with just five seconds left on the clock.
Mendota carried that momentum forward, using a 3-pointer from senior Karly Near and forcing a Hall turnover with the press to open the second quarter.
Near, who led all scorers with 18 points, nailed another trey on the ensuing possession, and once again Mendota’s full-court pressure resulted in a Lady Red Devil miscue to set up a basket from sophomore Brooke Carroll and push the MHS advantage to double digits at 24-13 with 7:08 left in the second quarter.
“We’re at our best when we’re playing good defense, and you saw us make some runs there and for the most part that was defensive based,” Geldon said.
While his squad forced 29 turnovers, Geldon said he hoped the Lady Trojans — who only dressed seven players in the contest — could be more consistent with their pressure moving forward.
Hall trimmed the Lady Trojans’ lead to 31-24 after a putback by senior Val Hoffert and entered the second half down 34-25, but Mendota used a 7-0 run to start the third quarter to push the lead back to double digits, which is where it remained for the rest of the contest.
“We talked about it at halftime. The last two minutes in the first quarter they got some easy buckets off the press. I probably over-substituted there. We didn’t have a ball-handling lineup in there and they made a push there,” said Hall coach Mike Struna, whose squad didn’t help its cause at the free throw line with a 13-for-26 showing. “We missed a lot of free throws ... and they played well. They’re really good.”
Becca Herrmann led Hall with 14 points and snagged a team-best seven rebounds.
Devitt had 15 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds for Mendota. Brooke Carrol tallied 12 points and Abby Bromenschenkel added 11 points in a well-balanced effort for the Lady Trojans.
Rockford Christian 40, Marquette 33
The Lady Crusaders started strong as they used a 3-pointer from Marissa Gama and a layup from Allison Taylor set up by a Royal Lion turnover to take a 5-0 lead in the opening minute and went up 8-2 with 5:20 left in the first quarter on a Gama 3-pointer from the left corner.
But, after leading 12-8 following the first quarter, the Marquette offense stalled and did not manage double-digit scoring in the final three frames.
Rockford Christian overtook the lead at 21-20 midway through the third quarter on a layup in transition from Jayla Penney, but Marquette reclaimed the advantage with a pair of free throws from Alice Salt with 3:27 left in the quarter.
However, it was the Lady Cru’s last lead of the game.
A drive and bucket in the lane from Jaclyn Lindquist, a three-point play from Sierra Riley and a pair of free throws from Haley Kittle gave the Royal Lions a 26-22 advantage with 1:11 left in the third.
Taylor was able to calm the RC rally with a 3-pointer at the buzzer for Marquette to pull to 28-25 after three quarters.
A layup in transition from Lindquist and pair of free throws from Jenica Bates in the opening minute of the fourth quarter gave Rockford Christian all the breathing room it needed to close out the 40-33 win as the Lady Crusaders struggled with 1-for-9 free throw shooting down the stretch.
“We keep playing hard. They’re working their butt off, I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Marquette coach Todd Hopkins said. “We turned it over a little bit and we missed some shots, but it’s early in the year and I’ll live with it. If we keep getting shots the way we are we’ll be fine at the end of the year.”
Gama led the way for the Lady Cru offensively with 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting from the field.
As a team, Marquette shot 13-for-42, including 4-for-9 from beyond the 3-point line. Salt had eight points and Taylor added seven.
Riley had 12 points on 4-for-10 shooting from the field and a 4-for-6 effort at the charity stripe. Penney joined her in double digits with 10 points.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.