Storm falls to Mendota
STILLMAN VALLEY — Three Bureau County girls basketball teams took the long road for regional play Monday night to Stillman Valley. Only one moved on down the postseason path.
Hall made the hour-plus trek north to defeat Bureau County rival Princeton 43-29 in the regional opener. Bureau Valley fell to Mendota 59-34 in the nightcap.
The Lady Devils (21-9), the No 7 sub-sectional seed, advanced to face No. 2 Stillman Valley (20-8) at 6 p.m. Tuesday with No. 6 Mendota (21-10) and No. 3 Riverdale (22-3) to follow.
"They’re going to be pumped up playing in front of their home crowd," Hall coach TJ Orlandi said of Stillman Valley. "I stressed to (the Lady Devils) if we come out a little bit flat, if you’re down maybe eight or 10 and it’s on their floor, it’s going to be tough. So we've got to come out and be ready to play."
Mendota coach John Hansen said the Lady Trojans will have to rebound a lot better than they did Monday.
"We gave up way too many second chances," he said. "Got to work a lot harder on that (Tuesday). We have to make sure we're not losing those 50-50 balls. Don’t want to go home on something like that. If they outplay us, that’s fine, but we're not going to lose not hustling."
Hall 43, Princeton 29
It was the classic case of the tale of two halves in the first game of the night. Princeton won the first half, outplaying the heavily favored Lady Devils to the tune of a 17-12 halftime lead.
Hall and senior Hanah Hart, however, dominated the second half, outscoring the Tigresses 31-12.
Hart scored 17 of her game-high 24 points in the second half.
Orlandi challenged Hart and junior guard Jacilyn Cinotte (12 points) at halftime to get things going.
“I told them, ‘You two are our are leaders. You’re the ones everybody looks at to go,’” he said.
Hart opened the third quarter with a 3-point play and a hoop to tie the game at 17. Rachael Kobold scored off a dish by Cinotte to cap a 7-0 Hall run to go up 19-17, and the Lady Devils never trailed again.
The Lady Devils scored the last 12 points of the third quarter, capping a 19-2 third-quarter surge to take a 31-19 lead at quarter’s end.
Brynn Hieronymus opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to draw the Tigresses within 31-22.
Taeja Foster and Hart hooped for Hall and Zoey Morris added a free throw in a 5-0 run to put the Lady Devils ahead 36-22 with under four minutes to play.
“Princeton played hard tonight and came out with a good game plan and their girls responded in the first half and took it to us,” Orlandi said. “They have good coaches there and girls that play hard. It’s a rival. Got to beat somebody a third time, I knew it’s going to be tough. I tried to stress that to the girls. This isn’t going to be like the first two games. Their season’s on the line, too.
“Give a little credit to Princeton for playing hard and having a good game plan.”
Coleman led PHS (9-20) with 15 points, while McKenzie Hecht and Hieronymus added six each.
Princeton took an early 5-3 lead with its cousins connection of juniors Abby Jensen (2-pointer) and Hieronymus (3-pointer).
Coleman hit a trey at the buzzer to give PHS a 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and bounced in another for a 17-9 lead late in the half.
PHS coach Tiffany Gonigam said the Tigresses executed to near perfection in the first half, especially holding Hart to seven points.
“The girls just executed really, really well. It was like perfection, especially on defense,” she said. “I don’t know what we shot. We made enough to stay in the game. I was really happy to play a slow-paced game. Honestly, I was really happy with 17 points. I thought we played really well and had really good pace. Defensively, we were doing exactly what we wanted.
“Kind of a bad third quarter. We let them get out on some fast breaks where we just didn’t stop the ball soon enough.”
Mendota 59, Bureau Valley 34
Amellia Bromenschenkel is used to drawing most of the attention from Mendota’s opponents and joked with her teammates in practice she hoped she had a bad game and everyone else would do good in her place Monday night.
That’s exactly what happened as Bromenschenkel was held scoreless until late in the first half, and her teammates, especially Anna Bokus, picked up the slack.
Bokus hit four 3-pointers in the first half to carry the Lady Trojans to a 29-24 halftime lead over the Storm. She finished with 15 points, all on treys.
Junior guard Daisy Arteaga led Mendota with 18 points.
“(Amellia) was kinda saying, ‘I want to have a bad game, so everybody else could do well so maybe other teams scouting would say they’re better and they’re not just going to (focus on me) every game,’” Hansen said. “I’m sure she’s kind of mad about it now. But it worked out. Everybody stepped up.
“Bokus was huge. Really the last three games she’s really come on with her 3. That’s pretty much what she does. She posts up in the corner and if the dump-down to Fitzgerald isn’t there, we find her and lately she buries it.”
Bromenschenkel got her game going in the second half, scoring 11 of her night’s 13 points despite picking up her fourth foul in the third quarter and taking a seat.
“We’ll call it an ‘off game.’ (Bureau Valley) did a good job packing the lanes,” Hansen said. “It wasn’t that Bromo had a bad game. It was everybody was hitting. She didn’t get a bunch of the putbacks. We didn’t have lean on her by swinging the ball six times and finding her. So it wasn’t her missing. It was everybody hitting stuff.”
BV coach Daniel Sinclair said you had to give Bokus and Arteaga credit for stepping up how they did for Mendota.
“That was ultimately the game plan, ‘Can we stop (Bromenschenkel)?” he said. “You always say, ‘Make the other four people beat you,’ and they got hot from 3-points. I think they had nine 3-points. That was a little disappointing.
“But ultimately the girls, especially in the first half, pulled off the game plan we set and it kept us in there for three quarters of the game. That was good to see.”
Junior Lauren Wirth had the hot hand early for the Storm, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game at 8 with four minutes left in the first quarter.
Sam Bohm hooped twice for the Storm before Bokus hit her second trey of the first quarter to pull Mendota within 12-11.
Bohm put the Storm back in front at 18-16 with her second hoop of the second quarter at 3:28.
Mendota outscored BV 13-6 the rest of the half to go up 29-24 at the half.
Wirth finished with 11 points for BV and Bohm tallied nine.
“Whether we got beat by 30 or got beat by 1, people can say our girls played hard,” Sinclair said. “They always say your girls are fun to watch because they’ll play through anything. I don’t care what it is. They were fun to coach all year long because I never had to worry about their hustle or their attitude toward the game. That’s what kept us in a lot of games this year. That’s probably what kept us in this game.”