It happened in the third quarter. Troy High School’s Kiana Patterson hit three consecutive 3-pointers, turning a seven-point game into a 16-point lead over Pittsford Mendon. The Vikings could have quit.
They were playing the hometown team — Hudson Valley Community College is in Troy — in the Class A state tournament semifinals, and the Flying Horses, a squad with more quickness all over the floor, had found their stride. But Mendon didn’t give in. From years of playing soccer and volleyball and basketball and softball, its seniors know better.
The Vikings whittled Troy’s lead down to five points with a little more than a minute to go, but the Section II champions went 10-for-10 at the free-throw line to seal a 65-53 victory. The Flying Horses (18-5) play Section IV’s Maine-Endwell (18-4) in Saturday’s 7 p.m. title game.
“I’m thrilled with the way our kids competed right down to the wire. These six seniors are incredibly special to us. They’ve really been the backbone of our program since ninth grade,” Mendon coach Todd Julien said, noting how the depth they provided as underclassmen became leadership the past two years.
“They’ve really been the backbone, not just in basketball, but Mendon girls sports for a number of years.”
Senior guards Erin Lyons (19 points, seven rebounds) and Lauren D’Hont (17 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals) led the Vikings (21-2), whose only other loss was to Class AA state semifinalist, unbeaten Gates Chili. The four other seniors: point guard Courtney Case, guard Belle Leon and forwards Kristin Powers and Anna Valentine.
Despite forcing 24 turnovers, Mendon committed 20 itself, was beaten 32-28 on the boards and shot just 26% (16-for-61). “They played that 2-3 zone and we just couldn’t get any clean looks against it because of their length and ability to recover,” Julien said.
Mendon actually started solidly, taking leads of 5-0 and 12-8 and forcing seven turnovers. Troy coach Paul Bearup said his guards needed to slow down offensively — “They always want to go, go, go,” he said — and they did. Defensively, they used their overall quickness, switching from a zone to a man-to-man defense, to overplay passing lanes and create their own turnovers.
An 8-2 spurt gave Troy a 28-19 lead at halftime, then Patterson drained three straight 3-pointers to bust the game open midway through the third quarter, putting the locals up 40-24.
“When you play a good team you’ve got to pick your poison a little bit so we decided to play a little zone, see if we could play clean up the backboards and we got burned on those three 3s,” Julien said. “That gave us a mountain we had to climb.”
Mendon cut its deficit to single digits three times in the fourth quarter, but Troy had answers. That was the problem all day, really. Patterson finished with 22 points, making 7 of 12 shots, including 4 of 7 on 3-pointers.
“When there’s room she’s going to shoot it and we always feel good about her knocking them down. It was a huge swing for us,” Bearup said of her third-quarter flurry.