2A Hall Regional: Mendota pulls away from Hall in second half of quarterfinal

Trojans advance to play No. 2 Seneca in Wednesday’s semifinals

Cale Strouss of Mendota High School drives to the hoop through multiple Hall High School defenders during the IHSA 2A Regional Semifinal at Hall High School on February 19, 2024.

In the first round of the Class 2A Hall Regional, the No. 9-seeded Mendota boys basketball team came to Spring Valley to play the No. 7-seeded Red Devils, and the Trojans took care of business with a convincing 77-46 win.

“We came out with good energy, which I was worried about as illness has been running through the team,” Mendota coach Steve Wasmer said. “We hit our open shots and we got some points that were generated from our defense. Hall had a tough night shooting tonight and our shots fell. In high school basketball that is oftentime the difference. I think we have lost twice to them so we know how well they can shoot it.”

The Trojans (14-18) advance to play No. 2 Seneca (22-9) in a regional semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The game began with the teams exchanging buckets with Mendota getting a layup from Aden Tillman and Max Bryant countering for the Devils.

The score was tied again at 5 as Payton Dye canned a 3-pointer for Hall and Izaiah Nanez matched him with one for the Trojans.

With the score knotted at 7, Hall’s Joseph Bacidaore rolled in a layup to put Hall up 9-7, but Mendota scored the next eight, highlighted by 3s from Ryan Stevenson and Tillman to jump out to a 15-9 advantage.

Hall got a hoop from Braden Curran before Mendota’s Cale Strouss dropped in a 3 to end the first quarter with Mendota out to an 18-11 lead.

The second stanza saw Hall open with an 11-3 run as Wyatt West contributed five points and Dye and Bryant each knocked down a 3 as the Red Devils jumped ahead 22-21.

But the lead was short lived as Mendota scored the next six, including a pair of layups from Braiden Freeman;

After a layup by Curran, the Trojans closed the half strong with four points from Tillman to lead 31-24 at the intermission.

Hall's Braden Curran attempts to block the pass of Mendota's Cameron Kelly during the IHSA 2A semifinal game at Hall High School on February 19, 2024.

The second half began with the teams trading hoops before the Trojans began to pull away on the strength of a 10-2 run during which Tillman added four more to his game-high 20 points and Mendota led 47-32 with 3:30 to play in the third quarter.

Hall responded as West went on a personal 5-0 run before Mendota closed the third with the last eight points to stretch the lead to 56-39 with one period left.

The Trojans picked up where they left off in the fourth as they reeled off the first eight points to build an insurmountable 64-39 lead with six minutes left and cruised to the victory.

The Trojans were led in scoring by Tillman with 20 points, Nanez and Dane Doyle with 11 each and Freeman with nine.

Hall countered with West scoring 12 and Curran adding 10.

“We are a small team and we rely on the outside shot and tonight they didn’t fall, but give Mendota credit they were the better team tonight,” Hall coach Mike Filippini said. “This team gave us great effort all year and they did again tonight. It’s a tough way to end the year, but they battled to the end.”