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MENDOTA - After winning just three Big Northern conference West Division games a season ago, Mendota wanted nothing more than to start off the season 1-0.
Mission accomplished as the Trojans topped Oregon 75-46 Tuesday night in Mendota.
“Yeah, we talked about starting out 4-1 and 1-0 compared to 3-2, 0-1,” Mendota coach Jan Thompson said. “We had a good season last year, but won just three conference games and, give our guys credit, They came ready to play.”
The Trojans smothering defense caused 25 turnovers on the night. Early on, the defense led to a Mark Prescott 3-pointer and a steal and layup for John Carroll to give Mendota a 10-4 lead.
At the start of the second quarter Oregon’s Jessie McKinley made a nice dish in the lane to Billy Heeg to make it a 18-11 Mendota lead.
Mendota responded with a 15-6 run started by Prescott hitting a floater in the lane and then Carroll hit back-to-back fast break layups as the Trojans led 33-21 at intermission.
“We talked to the kids the other night about organized chaos,” Thompson said. “We are not the type of team this year that can pound the ball inside. We are the type of team that needs to be running around like our hair is on fire. We need to be going as fast as we can and playing tough defense and causing turnovers like we did (Tuesday).”
In the third quarter, the Trojan defense went right back to causing chaos, which led to more and more fast break situations.
As the third period wound down, the Trojans lead continued to grow. Prescott picked up a steal and layup as did Carroll. Seconds later Carroll drained a 3-pointer to give the Trojans a 53-34 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
When Oregon wasn’t turning the ball over it was only getting one shot per trip at the basket as Sam Bowne led Mendota to a big rebounding edge (35-17) with 11 of his own.
“Sam had a great game tonight,” Thompson said. “I talked to him about upping his game and said it don’t necessarily have to be on offense and I thought he responded great. Double digits in boards and key stick backs.”
Prescott had five rebounds of his own and in the fourth quarter he took one of his boards and raced down the court for a layup to give Mendota a 55-36 lead and then Bowne’s stick back pushed the lead to 21 points.
The Trojans finished strong and raced to a 75-46 victory to open the Big Northern Conference season. Prescott led all scorers with 21 points while Carroll finished with 20. Bowne led all players with 11 rebounds on the evening.