It was sad start to the high school girls basketball season for the Pittsford Mendon Vikings, who lost two starters for the season before they could get rolling.
Last season’s Section V Class A2 champions pulled off another rise through the Monroe County league standings however, and have another division title.
“We were down and we came back,” Mendon junior forward Caroline Cullinan said.
Mendon earned a split in two regular season games against Brighton and clinched the Monroe County East Division II title after defeating the Barons, 54-38 Saturday night.
Sara Lyons, another junior, scored a team-high 19 points and Cullinan finished with 14 for the Vikings on “Senior Night” at Mendon. Olivia Blasioli added 13 for Mendon, now 15-4 overall and 8-1 in division games.
Brighton seemed to fly out to an 8-0 lead, but the Vikings cut down on turnovers, then clamped down on the Barons’ half-court offense. Mendon led 23-19 at halftime, after Brighton scored two points in the second quarter, free-throws by senior guard Brooke Wolff.
“That’s a Mendon basketball win, right? Mendon coach Todd Julien said. “Collective effort, both offensively and defensively, I loved the way our kids played defense tonight.
“We got off to a little bit of a bad start but we watched our kids rally and pick up the energy. We had to play that well defensively, given how many self-inflicted turnovers we had, right? So to overcome that you have to do it somehow. We did it on the defensive end this time.”
Wolff, with 14 points, was the only Brighton player who reached double-digits. Makalah Sizer had eight and Meghan Flanagan seven for the Barons (14-5, 6-3). The Barons missed a chance to move into a tie for the division lead, after defeating Mendon at Brighton, 50-46.
“We get a little bit stagnant at times,” Brighton coach Sam Rizzo said. “We’re a jump-shooting team and when shots don’t fall, and I see your shots aren’t falling I get a little bit nervous too, you know? So the games we’ve been successful in, is when we can hit those outside shots.
“Mendon is a great team, they play really solid team defense. But when our shots don’t fall, we kind of look at each other.”
The Barons scored eight unanswered points during the first 2 minutes, 24 seconds. But a 10-0 run by Mendon, including a drive and another basket in the lane by Lyons, gave the Vikings the lead, 21-17.
Mendon led by two points, when one of two free-throws by Cullinan, after a steal by Abbey Leon, began a 13-0 run by the Vikings. That seemed to clinch the outcome, despite 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions by Wolff. Brighton was in catch-up mode, but Cullinan and teammates made sure the Barons would only get one one shot attempt on most of their possessions in the fourth.;
“Everyone loves a comeback,” Lyons said. “I knew we could do it.”