OREGON — The Oregon Tip-Off Tournament saw a double dose of the Mendota girls basketball team Saturday.
Both games saw the same thing happen.
Mendota started off hot against Oregon in the semifinal with a 19-point halftime lead.
The Lady Trojans had a similar start against Rockford Lutheran in the championship game with a 16-point halftime lead.
The difference was, the Lady Trojans were able to hold off a Lady Hawks’ comeback for a 61-58 victory, but they couldn’t stop the Lady Crusaders from winning the game and the tournament 44-42.
“In the first half of both games, especially against Lutheran, we did what we wanted to do,” Mendota coach Kevin Geldon said. “We played our brand of basketball, Mendota Trojan brand of basketball.
“In the second half, it just wasn’t the case. They kind of willed themselves to a victory. They were quicker to loose balls, we gave up I don’t know how many offensive rebounds, it had to be close to 15 in the second half off of free throws, 3-pointers. They wanted it more than we did in the second half, that’s what it really boiled down to.”
Mendota (3-1) scored 15 points in the first quarter and 12 in the second to go into the locker room at half with a 27-11 lead over Rockford Lutheran.
One of the reasons Mendota enjoyed a commanding lead was junior guard Abby Bromenschenkel caused the Lady Crusaders problems on the perimeter with her defensive pressure as she forced countless turnovers.
Also, junior Amy Devitt had 16 points and 10 rebounds before the third quarter started.
Once the second half began, it was a different game.
Rockford Lutheran (4-0) opened the third quarter on a 7-0 run en route to dropping 16 in the frame and held the Lady Trojans to six points to cut the deficit to 33-27.
“We’re very young. We start two freshmen and two sophomores and a junior,” Lutheran coach Joni Carlson said. “The first half we panicked. We got down and we just got out of our offense, out of what we want them to do defensively and offensively.
“At halftime, we told them, ‘Chip away, get back to what we’re strong at, get it in the post, drive and kick.’ They just chipped away and got stops. They’re just young. We talk about how they don’t know any better.”
Mendota won the game’s rebounding battle 31-21, but one of the Lady Crusaders’ main adjustments in the second half was putting in bigger personnel.
Senior forward Chrystal McKiski didn’t play at all in the first half. She checked in early in the third quarter and grabbed four rebounds and played physical defense against Devitt, who didn’t score a point and only had two rebounds in the second half.
Mendota kept the lead it held since the beginning of the first quarter until Rockford Lutheran tied the game at 37-37 with three minutes left.
Ally Bromenschenkel gave the lead back to Mendota with a pair of free throws 13 seconds later, but the Lady Trojans found themselves in a tie at 39-39 with 2:35 left.
The two squads battled back and forth until the Lady Crusaders were able to capitalize on a Mendota defensive lapse for an easy layup to take a 43-41 lead with 9.2 seconds remaining.
Mendota quickly moved the ball up the court with time running off the clock.
Junior Brooke Carroll was fouled on a last ditch shot attempt and was sent to the charity stripe with 3.5 seconds left.
She sank the first one, but missed the second. The Lady Crusaders snagged the rebound and hit 1-of-2 free throws after being fouled to seal the victory.
The Lady Trojans will see both Oregon and Rockford Lutheran again this season in Big Northern Conference West Division games.
“It’s kind of nice to see them early. They’re both very good basketball teams,” Geldon said. “Our conference is a complete dog fight. I saw Byron here scouting. I think we’ll be better for this experience. We’ll learn from it. zit certainly challenged us and we’ll respond.”
Mendota’s next game is at La Salle-Peru at 7:45 p.m. Monday.
Marquette 48, Hall 43, OT
Kendall Kaufmann poured in a game-high 22 points to lead the Lady Crusaders to victory.
Cassidy Murphy added 18 points for Marquette (2-2).
Becca and Ellen Herrmann combined for 29 points to lead the Lady Red Devils with Becca scoring 15 and Ellen scoring 14.
Hall 50, Polo 35
Ellen Herrmann scored 16 points and Brenna Faletti added 14 for the Lady Red Devils, who led 30-11 at halftime.
Marquette 36, Milledgeville 26
Kaufmann and Bailey McGrogan each scored seven points to lead Marquette.
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.