SPRING VALLEY – St. Bede’s quest at a third straight Colmone Classic championship appearance was put in jeopardy on Tuesday night.
The Bruins have lost to Fieldcrest in the tournament’s championship game the last two seasons and would have liked one more shot at the Knights, but fell to 1-1 in White Pool play with a 55-49 loss to Mendota. With the win, the Trojans improved to 2-0 in the tournament.
St. Bede coach Mike Kilmartin said his team simply went cold offensively and missed some easy baskets early that put them in a hole.
“We missed point blank, and I’m not going to put the blame on our big guy (Pyszka) because he has played so well the last couple of weeks, but he missed some (shots) in there we could have used,” said Kilmartin. “We are having trouble shooting and it’s not that we aren’t getting decent shots.”
Despite a tough shooting night from the field, the Bruins hung tough with the Trojans in the first half.
Pyszka, who led the Bruins with 19 points in the game, scored in the paint with 3:47 left in the second quarter to give the Bruins what would be their last lead of the game at 22-21.
John Gehm then made the last of his four three-pointers in the first half to start a 7-2 run for the Trojans to close out the half up 28-24.
Mendota seemed to carry that momentum in the second half of play as they began the third quarter with seven quick, unanswered points following a score from Trae Blumhorst, a three-point play from Tyler Cocanour and a floater from James Carroll to make it 35-24.
St. Bede would answer with a run of their own, however, scoring eight of the final 11 points of the period, capped by a reverse lay-in by Grant Bosnich.
The Bruins continued their comeback bid in the fourth quarter and a three-pointer from Brad Groleau from the left wing cut the deficit to 49-47 with 2:45 remaining.
But, the Bruins would only manage a Pyszka lay-up the rest of the way, and Mendota made good on 7 of 9 free-throw attempts down the stretch, which pleased their head coach Jan Thompson, who has put a big emphasis on free-throw shooting after making just 11 of 27 in their regional championship loss to Plano last year.
“Big free throws,” he said. “We’ve been all over the place on our free throws all year. We work on them every single day. One of our mottos at the beginning of the year was free throws win championships.”
Kilmartin, who previously coached at Mendota, said he had a good idea of what the Trojans were going to do offensively, but they still couldn’t stop their dribble penetration.
“We beat (Mendota) pretty good twice last year and they have a lot of pride and rightfully so,” said Kilmartin. “I’ve seen them play since those kids were in grade school and we knew Gehm could shoot, and we told them he wasn’t getting any threes and he gets four in the first half. We are continually leaving shooters and doing some silly things.”
Wednesday’s games featured St. Bede finishing pool play against Stark County and Mendota facing Bureau Valley, needing a win to earn a spot in the championship. Results were not available at press time. Visit www.bcrnews.com for updates.