PRINCETON — The visiting Mendota Trojans never trailed Thursday night, effectively using a 16-6 first quarter surge to propel themselves to a 65-52 non-conference victory over the host Princeton Tigers
“I thought we did some good things early. We made some runs, just didn’t, at crucial times, didn’t make good plays,” said Princeton coach Jesse Brandt. “We’ve got to do a better job, at crucial points in games, making some plays. Right now, we’re not making them, and we’re allowing the other team to make them.
“You’d think we’d shoot a little bit better on our home court, but (some shots) just didn’t go down tonight. We were 2-15 on threes. We haven’t shot well all year, but we haven’t played at home (much). I was hoping, we’d get home, we’d get some shots to fall, but we really didn’t get (enough) to go down.”
A last-second layup by Mark Prescott off a Princeton turnover gave Mendota that 16-6 lead after eight minutes of play.
“I thought our hustle was decent,” said Mendota coach Jan Thompson. “I didn’t think that all the time we made smart hustle plays, but we were at least hustling. In order to beat teams on the road, we have to out-hustle the home court team. For the most part, I thought we did that tonight. It wasn’t always the smartest hustle in the world, but we did hustle.”
The Trojans pushed in front by 13 points, 27-14, with 2:17 left in the second period, but the pesky Tigers scored seven of the last nine points of the first half to make it a 29-21 Mendota lead at the break
Credit Princeton junior guard Brenton Schmidt with all seven of his team’s points during that run, coming on 3-4 free throws followed by a pair of baskets at :37.5 and again at :06.6.
In the second half, the Tigers trailed by only nine, 40-31, when Mendota proceeded to use an 8-2 run over the final 2:33 of the third frame to push their lead out to 48-33 by third quarter’s end.
Mendota’s James Carroll scored nine of his 14 points in the third period.
“First half, we did a good job on James Carroll. That was the focus, obviously,” Brandt said. “He’s the leader for them. We held him to three first half points. Couple other guys made some plays, made some shots for them, which is what we wanted to have to happen, make somebody else beat us. Then second half, we let him get going a little bit.”
The Trojans’ lead varied between a high of 17 points and a low of 13 throughout the last eight minutes of play.
“They kept hanging with us and hanging with us, made some free throws,” Thompson said. “It was nice to pull away from them, though, it sure was. It gave us a little bit of (breathing room), didn’t have to feel so tight the whole night. I was sitting on the bench (feeling tight) most of the first half. Second half, I was able to relax a little bit.”
Garrett Duffin paced the Tigers (3-12) with 21 points and eight rebounds. Schmidt added 13 points off the bench.
Ryan Reeder topped the Trojans (13-6) with 17 points, including his team’s only three-pointer. Bowne and Mendota freshman Joe LaShonse supplied nine points each for the winners.
Twenty one of Mendota’s 31 rebounds occurred in the game’s first half.
“I think, the first half, we gave up 11 offensive boards. That was part of the key to their lead in the first half,” said Brandt. “We did do a better job in the second half, limiting them to three offensive boards. We did a decent job (of rebounding) ourselves, but we had a hard time scoring at times.
“Those guys who came in for the last four minutes that don’t get a whole lot of action, I think, played pretty well. They cut it from 17 down to 11 at one time. I thought they did a nice job of coming in and executing some plays,” he added.
* Notes: The Princeton Kittens took care of business in Thursday’s prelim game, downing Mendota’s freshmen-sophomore squad, 49-38. Jake Reinhardt paced the Kittens with 16 points, followed by seven-point efforts from Skey Behrends, Dalton Jilderda, and Lenny Mead. ... PHS also played Sherrard Friday night and will meet L-P Saturday night to conclude its four-game homestand this week. The freshmen (South Gym) and sophomores will both start up at 5 p.m. with the varsity to follow at 6:30 p.m.