MENDOTA – St. Bede coach Mike Kilmartin had five words to sum up Tuesday’s 60-43 loss at Mendota Tuesday — “He didn’t score, he didn’t score.”
St. Bede big man Joe Pyszka’s line in the boxscore read “0-4 0-4 0,” as Mendota’s effective defensive effort held the Bruins’ normally-frequent scorer scoreless on this night.
“I’m not sure it has (ever) happened. I don’t think it’s happened in the two years that I know. It may have happened to him when he was a sophomore, but he wasn’t one of the main players (then),” Kilmartin said. “We played really well Friday at Newman and then stunk it up tonight.”
According to Mendota coach Jan Thompson, Pyszka was the object of his team’s focus in preparing to play St. Bede.
“We worked like crazy for the last couple days on knowing that their whole offense goes through Joe Pyszka,” said Thompson. “First of all, that kid is a really great kid. I hope he does well from here on out, because he is a really good kid.
“Austin O’Sadnick, I can’t say (enough) about this kid. That was the best performance I’ve seen from Austin O’Sadnick in his high school career, all-around. Now, he’s scored more points than that. He’s done some other things.
“His defensive effort tonight, his rebounding and attacking the basket, was as good as I’ve seen ever for Austin O’Sadnick. With efforts like that, we’re pretty tough to beat.”
The Trojans went a perfect 7-7 from the field to open the game, taking a 14-9 lead, but the Bruins still hung close, actually tying the contest at 19-all with :52.6 left in the first period on Damin Smith’s third basket of the game.
Sam Lucas went 4-4 from the field, including a pair of treys, in the first eight minutes to help keep the visitors scoring early.
James Carroll hooped off a pass from Jon Gehm to close out the first frame with Mendota in front, 21-19.
A Smith basket courtesy of a Brad Groleau assist knotted the game at 21-all at the 6:44 mark of the second quarter.
But the Bruins went only 2-12 from the field over the game’s second period, as the Trojans pushed out to a 32-24 lead at the break.
Mendota senior Jon Gehm opened the second half with his second of three treys to push the hosts in front, 35-24.
The Bruins netted only eight points in the third frame on 3-8 shooting and committed six turnovers, as the Trojans enjoyed a 45-32 lead with only eight minutes yet to play.
“I was disappointed that we went down the way we went down,” said Kilmartin. “If they get a lead, they’re quick enough, they’ve got four ball handlers, it makes it very difficult to put pressure on. We should have never gotten in that situation. That was disappointing.”
Mendota’s double-digit lead allowed them to virtually take the air out of the ball down the stretch. St. Bede’s deficit ranged between 13 and 18 points throughout the fourth quarter, as Mendota’s 7-14 effort at the free line was enough to offset the Bruins’ 4-15 shooting from floor.
Smith’s 15 points led the Bruins, while Lucas finished with 14, including 10 in the first quarter. Smith added a team-best eight rebounds.
Mendota got game-highs of 20 points and nine rebounds from senior Trae Blumhorst. James Carroll added 13 points, O’Sadnick put in 12, and Gehm’s three treys gave him nine.
Mendota shot a sizzling 62 percent from the field, making good on 21-34 shots.
The Bruins fell to 17-5, the Trojans responsible for two of those five losses. St. Bede had previously fallen to Mendota, 57-49, in pool play at the Colmone Classic Tournament in Spring Valley last month.
Along the way, with this win, Mendota improved to 14-8, putting an end to a five-game losing streak after the Trojans started out 13-3.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Thompson. “Five games in a row, and all against decent teams. It hasn’t been like we haven’t played well, it’s just there’s not an off night in the Big Northern Conference. There’s not.”
• St. Bede’s frosh-soph squad, who led 27-6 at the half, improved to 16-1 on the season with a 52-39 win in the night’s prelim game. SB’s even scoring went Sam Halm (11), Jack Brady (10), Justin Shaw-Lushina (9), Jarrett Olson (9), Andrew Pyszka (8), and G.W. Leynaud (5).