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Hillcrest makes statement, routs La Sierra in River Valley League basketball opener

By in Press Enterprise on January 10, 2018

By Eric-Paul Johnson

RIVERSIDE – Hillcrest senior guard Brian Mendoza probably will hear the word “deny” is his sleep for a couple of nights.

That is what the Trojans’ coaching staff shouted from the bench as Mendoza chased and hounded La Sierra’s Jerod Elliott in Tuesday’s River Valley League opener.

Mendoza held Elliott to three points on 1-of-12 shooting, and that basket was a bank shot that beat the halftime buzzer. Mendoza also chipped in 16 points on the offensive side, helping the Trojans make a statement with a 70-30 blowout victory.

“My legs are probably going to be sore,” Mendoza said after his sterling defensive effort. “(Elliott) is pretty fast and not easy to stay with. I have to thank my teammates, though. That wasn’t only me out there.”

Elliott is among the area’s top scorers, averaging more than 20 points per game. Hillcrest coach Jackson Wood gave Mendoza the assignment Tuesday with confidence.

“He’s like the Energizer Bunny. He never seems to get tired,” Wood said. “Some of my assistants asked whether we needed to give him a breather, just for a minute or two. I said, ‘If La Sierra takes Elliott out of the game, I’ll take Brian out.’”

Two weeks ago, Wood said he wondered how his squad would perform during the first matchup against La Sierra, which owned a 6-0 record in the series before Tuesday’s contest.

Well, the Trojans (15-3) took the suspense out of the game from the opening tip-off. Sebastian Mendoza and Victor Ohia Obioha combined to score 17 points in the first quarter as the Trojans took a 21-5 lead.

“We came into this game with a mentality of putting our foot on the gas and never letting up,” Brian Mendoza said. “We had never beat La Sierra before. We had to come out fired up and ready to play our hearts […]    

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