By TIM IRVING
Back in the 2018-2019 season, or the last girls basketball season pre-COVID, a freshman, Danielle Strauf, hit a three-pointer to force overtime for Pittsford Mendon in a come-from-behind victory over Lake Shore in the Far West Regionals, propelling the Vikings to the State and Federation Championships.
Four seasons later, they are still the defending champs and Strauf is still leading the way as the Vikings beat Fairport 67-45 to improve to 8-1 on the year.
“It’s been an honor to be on this team, I got pulled up in eighth grade and it does seem like I’ve been on this team for 20 years,” Strauf said smiling.
“Danielle was born to lead, “ head coach Todd Julien said. “It’s not just in basketball, she’s gonna be the leader in the classroom, she’s gonna be the leader in the fundraisers, it’s in her blood.”
The Vikings opened up a 21-13 first quarter lead with senior center Bridget Miller scoring eight points in the paint.
As any team would, the Red Raiders collapsed the defense on Miller and she started kicking the ball out to Mendon’s sharp shooters. Strauf hit a pair of threes, Lily Kennedy and Anaya Coleman also hit triples as Mendon out-scored Fairport 16-6 in the second quarter.
“The threes we got were comfortable, in rhythm and we’re gonna hit those shots, that’s high-percentage for us,” Julien said.
Red Raiders (7-4) stars Ella Meabon and Bella Pucci combined to score 12 points, largely due to the team defense.
“The two of them have bright futures and the rest of the team is just hard workers and we knew we had to do the little things right,” Strauf said, adding “Our main mentality was to stay together on offense and defense.”
“I think the only reason it may have gotten a little lopsided is because our kids worked so hard on defense,” Julien said, singling out Coleman’s play out top.
Miller and Strauf scored 17 points each and Coleman 13. Sophomore Ne’vaeh Buntley led the Raiders with 10.
The Vikings are hoping to use this as a springboard to the end of the season.
“Fairport beat Penfield earlier in the season and Penfield beat us so it felt very good today because Fairport’s a very good team and knowing they beat Penfield was a statement game for us,” Strauf said.
Sarah Hirschler 6, Ne’vaeh Buntley 10, Abigail Smith 3, Rachel McCoy 2, Ella Meabon 9, Bella Pucci 3, Sophia Lapp 2, Natalie VanDeVoorde 3, Riley DeRue 5, Macy Ostrander 2.
Anaya Coleman 13, Lily Kennedy 9, Ella Peyre 2, Dani Strauf 17, Kate Hennessey 9, Bridget Miller 17.