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Mendota’s Ally Bromenschenkel (white jersey) goes up for a layup while being guarded by Rockford Lutheran’s Megan Opperman (No. 10) in Tuesday’s Big Northern Conference West Division game in Mendota. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
MENDOTA — The end of January means high school basketball teams are ironing out wrinkles in anticipation of postseason regional tournaments.
A 76-54 victory Tuesday by the Mendota girls basketball team over Rockford Lutheran proved the Lady Trojans are ready for the tough competition come Class 3A playoff time.
“For them being seeded first in their 3A regional, it gives us a great confidence boost because we can compete with the big schools,” Mendota sophomore center Amy Devitt said. “This is our first year in 3A, but this proves that we can compete and we do have a chance at winning our regional.
“It gives us more motivation to work hard at practice throughout the rest of our season.”
In the Big Northern Conference West Division game, Mendota (17-7, 5-5 BNC) scored the first basket on a Devitt layup just 17 seconds into the contest to take a 2-0 lead.
The purple and gold never relinquished the advantage.
Devitt and sophomore forward Ally Bromenschenkel pounded the ball in the paint and grabbed plenty of rebounds to help the Lady Trojans take the early lead. In the first quarter, Devitt outscored the Lady Crusaders by herself — 11-8 — as Mendota took a 19-8 cushion.
Devitt finished with a game-high 27 points and 12 rebounds.
Bromenschenkel scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the second Lady Trojan double-double.
“We have been practicing really, really hard on (rebounding), and we know it’s one of our weakest points so we tried extra hard (Tuesday),” Bromenschenkel said. “Everyone knew they had to go get their girl, and then we all boxed out.”
Mendota’s offensive fire power and rebound hoarding wasn’t over as sophomore forward Abby Bromenschenkel added 10 points and hauled in 11 rebounds.
If the scoring wasn’t enough, Devitt and the Bromenschenkels had all four of the game’s blocked shots.
“It’s a team effort — everything we do is a team effort,” Devitt said. “We had (four) people in double-digits (Tuesday). It was all very spaced out and everyone got their chance.”
Senior guard Karly Near was the fourth Lady Trojan in double digits as she hit the only two Mendota 3-pointers to aide her 4-of-4 free throw shooting to finish with 10 points.
The only aspect in the game of basketball Mendota didn’t do better than the Lady Crusaders was limit turnovers.
The Lady Trojans had double the amount of turnovers Rockford Lutheran had in the first quarter and the trend continued for the duration of the game as Mendota lost the battle 20-9.
However, MHS coach Kevin Geldon was able to keep his Lady Trojans in the driver’s seat without having to rely on the long ball.
“We played a complete team game, and I guess as a team we turned it over, but they’re a good team,” Geldon said. “They pressure you. It’s non-stop. They picked up full court the entire game, so that’s going to happen. I think going through that battle and still finding a way to win — pretty convincingly — says something about the team we have and what we’re capable of.”
The well-rounded game of rebounding, finishing at the basket, communicating on defense and executing fast-break opportunities gave the Lady Trojans a large lead.
However, the transition defense allowed Geldon’s team to keep the lead as Rockford Lutheran pushed the ball down the floor every possession behind senior point guard Rachel Konieczki. She finished with a team-high 23 points, seven steals, six assists and five rebounds.
“I think we prepared really well and I think the girls were really ready to play,” Geldon said. “All the things we put in place — in terms of our game plan — happened. It wasn’t perfect, (Koniecaki) still scored (23). She’s a heck of a player — a division I basketball player. We just tried to limit her as much as possible, and we did a nice job on the other girls.”
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.
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