MENDOTA – The Mendota girls basketball regional championship between Sterling and Mendota was a game of contrasts.
The Golden Warriors struggled to find offense against the Trojans' zone defense, but coach Julie Schroeder, after her team's 39-18 loss on the road, said she was pleased with the defensive effort.
Sterling was able to break the Mendota full-court press consistently, but turned the ball over 22 times, mostly against the half-court defense.
The zone defense gave Sterling trouble from the start. The Warriors' first point of the night didn't come until 2:34 left in the first quarter, when freshman Mya Pearson hit a pair a free throws. Senior Kayleen Terrock added a 3-pointer a few moments later in the quarter.
Those were the only five points the Golden Warriors scored in the first half.
"We just didn't execute the way we wanted to – taking care of the basketball, and running some of our offense and finding the gaps that we thought we could have," Schroeder said. "And hey, a lot of credit goes to Mendota. They played great. They limited our second shots, and we didn't get hardly any offensive rebounds."
At the end of the first quarter, the Trojans were up 7-5, and extended their lead to 16-5 at the half.
Mendota's Abby Bromenschenkel had five points at half, and ended the night with 12 as the game's leading scorer.
Schroeder's message to her team at halftime, she said, was that despite the offensive struggles, they were able to limit the Trojans' offense to 16 points.
"If you'd have told me we would hold them to 39 points, I would have thought we were in the game," she said. "So I thought our defensive effort was very good, we just couldn't get anything going on offense."
Terrock, Sterling's leading scorer, added five points in the second half, and ended the game with eight. Fellow senior Kiara Harris scored three points, all in the third quarter, on a basket, foul and ensuing free throw.
Terrock, Harris, Kaitlyn Bauer and Brooke Williams make up a senior class that will be missed, Schroeder said.
"Every year, it seems like we lose some really quality kids," she said. "But we're losing some great [seniors] this year. Sterling basketball is what it is because of how hard our kids work.
"Our program has been extremely strong and we're going to miss them."