Reading was stopped in its tracks like a Rabbit that tripped a snare Wednesday in a Class C district semifinal game against host Mendon.
With an 18-17 lead and a great deal of confidence going into the second half, Reading was immediately placed on defensive lockdown by the Hornets, which gave up just six points the rest of the way.
But Mendon’s offense still wasn’t operating at full capacity. The Hornets managed only five points in the third quarter — a 3-pointer by Jenna Griffith and two foul shots to take a 22-20 lead into the fourth period. Those foul shots by Alexis Russell and Grace Leighton, along with six leading scorer Brooke Howard made in the last eight minutes, turned out to be crucial.
“The keys tonight were free throws and our defense in the second half,” Mendon coach Leasa Griffith said. “Reading is a very quick, aggressive team. …At halftime we talked about getting out on the shooters and taking better care of the ball. Our guards were all getting pressured, so we talked about helping each other out with the ball handling. In the second half, I thought we did a much better job of executing the game plan that we had gone over the night before.”
Howard finished with 19 points and nine rebounds. Leighton dropped a triple in the fourth quarter en route to six points, Russell chipped in another two foul shots in the fourth for five total points, Griffith and Cierra Furlong each registered three, and Lauren Samson and Rachel Frisbie posted one each.
Russell and Leighton grabbed six rebounds, Griffith and Furlong each secured four, and Frisbie and Samson finished with two boards. Griffith also recorded six steals and four assists — both team highs.
Mendon plays Bronson for the third time this season in Friday’s championship. The Vikings defeated Union City 40-31 in the evening’s other semifinal game.
“Friday night will be another good game,” Leasa Griffith said. “Bronson is a very good, aggressive team, and we will need to be ready to defend and handle the pressure.”
The Hornets won both previous matchups by a combined 23 points.