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New strategy, same result for Cardinals in lopsided win

For one night, Mentor put aside the familiar “run and stun” style and turned to more of a “grind and be fine” approach to basketball.

No flash and dash, just another lopsided victory for the undefeated Cardinals.

Five players scored between 11 and 15 points, and Mentor held off every second-half push by visiting Medina in an 87-66 win.

After winning their first two games of the season by a combined 81 points, the Cardinals only led by 14 at the half on Tuesday night and the Bees would not go away in the third quarter. However, a 9-of-14 performance from 3-point range in the second half helped push Mentor to 3-0 on the season with back-to-back games against South and Euclid coming this weekend.

“Last year was the same type of game the Tuesday before Christmas against Medina we had to grind it out and maybe that’s a good thing for us,” Mentor coach Bob Krizancic said. “We are still waiting for Brandon (Fritts) to come back (ankle injury) and we need to make some small changes in what we are doing to be a better basketball team, but I like where we are at right now.

“I thought we got some good looks tonight. We have good shooters, and I think we will get better. What we need to do is to clean the little things up to be a good team.”

Scoring doesn’t get much more balanced than it did Tuesday for Mentor. Caleb Potter scored 15 points, Conner Krizancic had 14, Kade McClure chipped in 13 points and six rebounds, Kyle Hagey hit 4 of 5 3s and finished with 12, and Brody Nelson returned from injury to score 11.

“It’s been balanced like that for three games and we thought it would be like that tonight,” Krizancic said of the scoring. “We are waiting for a guy like Foreman to go off, but we know what we have and we like the scorers we have and the depth.”

Mentor never trailed in the game, jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead forcing an early Medina timeout. The Cardinals led, 25-10, at the end of the first quarter, but the Bees outscored Mentor by two over the next two quarters and were within striking distance, down 13 heading into the final eight minutes of play.

The Cardinals forced 21 turnovers and knocked down 15 of 27 3-pointers and were able to finally put Medina away down the stretch.

“After the first half, we knew we didn’t play well, but we figured we would wear Medina down and we were just waiting on our run,” Conner Krizancic said. “I think we still can get a lot better. The sky is the limit for this team.”

McClure, a 6-foot-6 junior who has verbally committed to play baseball at Louisville, hit a 3-pointer to start the game and was able to carry that momentum throughout the night.

“We were just finding the guy with the open look tonight,” McClure said.

“These next two games are big for us to keep rolling as we go to Tennessee for the Arby’s tournament.”

Jeff Foreman chipped in eight points for Mentor despite early foul trouble and Michael Gallagher added seven points and eight rebounds for the Cardinals, who enjoyed a 44-30 advantage on the boards.

“We have some really good pieces, we just have to figure out what to do with them and not guess,“ Bob Krizancic said. “We need to know what to do with our guys.”

Billy Geschke scored 16 of his game-high 19 points in the first half for Medina. Brandon Wilkins added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Bees.  

Bill Tilton

Varsitychalktalk.com is an informational and entertaining online home designed to  keep coaches, players, parents and fans of Northeast Ohio’s top prep programs updated in specialized ways no other Web site can offer. Varsitychalktalk.com founder Bill Tilton covered high school sports at the News-Herald in Willoughby for 12 years and brings his passion, knowledge and contacts for covering varsity action to the Internet. He is a high school sports fanatic, and it shows in the way he pays personalized attention and devotion to every team and player he writes about.

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