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Late charge propels Mendota past Seneca

After Wednesday night’s 54-44 win by Mendota over Seneca at the Seneca Turkey Tournament, both Trojans coach Jan Thompson and Fighting Irish coach Russell Witte elected to describe the outcome with one word. 

“If I had to describe our last game [against Spring Valley-Hall] with one word, it is ugly. It was ugly, but a win,” Thompson said. “If I had to describe the last three minutes with one word tonight, I’d say toughness. I think they did a real nice job of handling the pressure tonight.”

For Witte it was as simple as a lack of execution.

“Turnovers,” Witte said, summing up the game and the last three minutes in particular.

Seneca had just made up a 27-20 halftime and 36-32 deficit to the Trojans after three quarters when things fell apart.

Up until that point, Carter Gallick hit two 3-pointers, Conlan Callahan two baskets and Austin Applebee one hoop to get back a lead that Seneca hadn’t held since 14-12 at the end of the first quarter.

“We go to 44-43 with the ball and normally that is our spread time and we got rattled with it. I really think the next four possessions were turnovers,” Witte said.

“Looking back, maybe I should have called a timeout or two more to settle that down.”

Still, Witte was happy with the way his team recovered up until that point.

“We did a really good job getting back into the game in the second half,” he said. “We did make a very good adjustment on the way the game is going to be called.”

Early foul trouble by the Irish seemed to change the flow of the game early on.

In fact, at one point Seneca had bolted out to a 12-5 lead in the first quarter before Thompson called a timeout.

“We got caught in some bad rotations and had to go with four actual guards and a post and that caused us some defensive issues,” Witte said. “It forced us into a zone and we didn’t do a very good job of rotating and that let them loose a little bit. That’s what got them back in the game and got them the lead.”

Witte did mention that his team has only been together five days since the end of the football season, but that’s not an excuse for what happened against Mendota on Wednesday.

“In the second half the kids were playing with their feet and not their hands, forced some turnovers and converted,” Witte said. “We just couldn’t get over that hump and that comes with playing.”

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