SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

February 19, 2013

Improved Kazadi boosting Salem's strength

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North Shore Tech senior guard Jordan Mendez took a little while to get going, but once he did he was nearly unstoppable.

The Bulldogs finished the season 5-15 and Mendez helped them turn around a very slow start by having an excellent second half of the season. After spending the majority of the first 10 games fighting to be competitive, North Shore finished by playing .500 basketball over the final eight games.

Mendez was a major reason why.

North Shore’s only captain, Mendez did all he could to keep his team positive with his leadership skills. Then, his on-court performance began to improve after the season’s midpoint.

“He was sick and got off to a slow start. It really lingered for like a month,” North Shore coach Jody Norton said. “He’s not a very big kid; he’s very light and and not the strongest kid, so he got bogged down. When he got healthier he just got super aggressive ... and I wanted him to shoot like crazy.”

Mendez started shooting more and, more importantly, started scoring a lot. He averaged 11.7 points per game over the first 11 games. In the last nine games, Mendez averaged 20 a game with a pair of 27-point games, 26 in another, and 20 in two more.

“His confidence built, but the problem was the wins weren’t there so it was very hard for the kids to keep fighting. He was our only captain and truly led like one,” Norton said. “He always stayed positive even though our record was down. He tried to keep them up and pushed them. He always played hard no matter what our record was or what the score was.”

Mendez and the Bulldogs will not get a chance to play in the state tournament this year, but Norton hopes his captain’s attitude and approach will resonate with his younger players, and it appears that it already has.

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