The 2022-2023 edition of the Mexico High School boys basketball team started their season much like their record setting predecessor’s, in exciting fashion. Last years basketball Bulldogs set a school record with an undefeated regular season and 28 wins. They did so with a high octane attack that had both flash and substance.
This years’ Mexico team opened the season on the road at Westphalia in a battle of teams that were both highly ranked last year, and that both had lost four starters to graduation. Oddly, both teams remaining starter, Nate Brandt for Westphalia and Jordan Shelton for Mexico, were both All-Conference AND Class 4 All-District a year ago.
The game did not disappoint.
The difference between these two teams was that Fatima was already 2-0 on the year and the Comets used that experience to jump out early on the Bulldogs. It was 13-0 Fatima before MHS Head Coach Darren Pappas could find his seat on the bench. The Dawgs then settled in and cut into the Comet lead. It was 19-11 after the first quarter. The comeback continued in the second, and the two teams were tied at the half, 30-30.
Fatima regained an 8-point lead early in the third, and held it for most of the 3rd and 4th quarters, but Mexico, just as they had in the second, got hot from deep late. They tied it up at 55-55 with 1:15 left. But, a Mexico foul put Fatima at the line where they converted one of two free throws. A couple of wild possessions by both teams ensued before Mexico gained control of the ball with 14.9 seconds remaining. After a Pappas time-out, and a couple of Fatima fouls trying to prevent MHS from getting a shot off, DJ Long got the inbound, drove the left block and when the defense sagged to defend him, kicked it to a wide-open Jaydon Eldridge for the game-winning three-ball from the left wing. Mexico gets win number one in last-second fashion, 58-56 over Fatima.
Unofficially, Mexico was led by Long’s 26-point performance. Shelton kicked in 17 and Eldridge added 11.
Brandt led Fatima, and all scorers, with 28 points.
The Bulldogs now have a week off before opening play as the #1 seed in the Montgomery County Tournament.
Meanwhile the Junior Varsity team also had a great match. A back and forth affair went to overtime before Mexico pulled out a 49-45 win. Thanks in large part to freshman Kaden Benne, who scored all six of the Dawgs points in OT.