From sidekick to superhero

2018 Boys Basketball Player of the Year

 Peter Mendazona and coach Tim Kreta stand together and smile at practice last Friday afternoon.

Photo by Jennifer Halley
Peter Mendazona and coach Tim Kreta stand together and smile at practice last Friday afternoon.



INDEPENDENCE — Peter Mendazona is a quiet kid. That’s what his coaches and teammates say about him. But being quiet doesn’t mean he isn’t noticed.

As a senior, this is Mendazona’s last chance to play basketball for the Panthers — and it’s wrapping up fast. A few more games and it will be all over.

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Mendazona was named to the second team of the all conference list on Tuesday.

Mendazona has had a successful year, with an average of 12.3 points per game this season, 10 points total for the year in league, and was second in rebounds, with four on average per game. Additonally, he was second on the team for free throw attempts, and ended up shooting 32 percent from the 3-point line.

As he reflects on his last season of high school basketball, Mendazona emphasizes how important the team aspect is.

“I feel like our guys are coming together and working hard. To me, it’s more of the team, and not the individual,” he said.

On the court, he’s attentive and works hard, taking it upon himself to close any gaps he sees during a game, and making sure he helps his team be the best they can be.

“I think I just need to take that leadership role and lead this team,” Mendazona said, “but personally I don’t take that as pressure, I just take it as, I just gotta do it and do my best to get us (to playoffs).”

Being a leader requires more than words— it demands you act the part too.

“He doesn’t say much, but when he does speak, the words are pretty voluminous because the kids know who he is,” coach Tim Kreta said. “It’s fun to have that around; as a coach, you always want someone else on the floor whose voice carries some meaning when you’re trying to get a point across.”

The boys basketball team is a tight-knit group of guys, most of whom have been playing basketball or other sports together since they were in middle school or younger.

“I’ve known him since middle school,” senior Marcos Cedillo said. “We’ve been really good friends. He’s really encouraging and he always, like, if you don’t know what to do, you just ask him and he’s on it, no matter what kind of difficult situation you’re in.”

Mendazona has been playing basketball since he was 5. Both his parents played basketball at Central, too, with his dad finishing as an all-state player.

Sports and dedication seem to run in the Mendazona family. It’s no wonder Mendazona turned out the way he did.

Upon entering first grade, he and his sister, Meagan Mendazona, who starts on Central’s girls’ basketball team, both took part in the bittyball program that Kreta has taught for 18 years, so Kreta said he knows Peter well.

“I’m really proud of his development,” Kreta said. “He has kinda been the Robin to a bunch of other Batmans; this year, his role became more of a Batman and now we need to find him some Robins.”

In other words: Peter took charge and has others looking up to him.

Not just in basketball, though. Peter is the quarterback on the Panthers football team, and pitches for the baseball team.

“He’s the face of three different programs and the most humble because he doesn’t want any attention,” Kreta said. “He’s the guy that’s gonna go out and work hard. He does everything the right way.”

Peter appears to be grounded in all that he does.

“He’s really focused all the time, even in school,” senior Brendan Dedek said. “He’s quiet but he’s got a good personality.”

Peter said it was an honor that he was picked as the Itemizer-Observer’s 2018 Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

“That’s huge,” he said. “That excites me.”

Outside of being an all-star athlete, Mendazona is just a regular guy who likes to go fishing and hunting. Next year, he’ll go off to Feather River College in Quincy, Calif., to play baseball.



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