PERU — The Mendota Lady Trojans had a lot to overcome Saturday in the finals of the Lady Bruins Christmas Classic. They had to get over a 14-point second-quarter deficit and the hot hand of St. Bede junior guard Laura Sickley, who scored 10 of her team-high 26 points in the fourth quarter.
They got just enough from sophomore center Amy Devitt (29 points) and a key fourth-quarter three-pointer by senior guard Karly Near to hold on for a 65-62 championship victory.
“Not the way we wanted to start, but anytime you can win any tournament, it’s a big stepping stone,” Mendota coach Kevin Geldon said.
St. Bede (9-11) led as much as 25-11 in the second quarter, but Mendota used a 13-0 run to end the half and scored the first basket of the third quarter to take a 26-25 lead.
Near hit a go-ahead three late for Mendota with 50 seconds left in the game, putting the Lady Trojans ahead 61-60. St. Bede senior center Morgan Dean scored inside with 3.4 seconds left, but missed on a possible game-tying free throw.
Devitt, the tournament MVP, tacked on two free throws for the 65-62 win.
“Mendota has never really won anything basketball-wise so we wanted to prove to everybody in the area what kind of team we are,” Devitt said.
St. Bede proved a lot in the tournament, too, taking the No. 3 seed all the way to the championship game, sweeping the White Pool title with a 4-0 record.
“We’re not the same team we are now when we seeded the tournament,” said SBA coach Tom McGunnigal, noting early-season injuries, which led to a 5-10 pre-tournament record. “I like the attitude we had the whole game. I’m not happy with the results, but I was happy with the attitude.”
Devitt powered the Lady Trojans’ second-quarter run with 11 points. She added nine more in the third quarter, including back-to-back hoops, converting a three-point play on the second to lift the Lady Trojans to a 46-45 lead at quarter’s end.
Then Mendota (12-3) got a sick feeling at the hands of St. Bede’s Sickley. The petite Lady Bruin junior guard scored 10 straight points with a variety of nifty drives to the basket and two free throws to give the Lady Bruins a 55-50 lead. She added another free throw and another scoring drive to maintain a 60-56 lead.
“She’d make one and you think she can’t do it again and she’d make 10 more. They were incredible tough shots,” Geldon said.
“She was gutting it out and putting it in a zone,” McGunnigal said.
Dean had 14 points for St. Bede with Near and Ally Bromenschenkel adding 12 for the Lady Trojans,