It’s only four games in to the season, but Mentor coach Bob Krizancic is already fairly confident the Cardinals are a good basketball team.
Never satisfied with just good, the veteran coach of over 500 wins thinks this year’s squad has a chance to be an elite basketball team and that drives the pursuit for perfect in the early portion of the schedule.
Friday night at South, it was another good effort from a very good team as Mentor pulled away for a 91-67 victory. However, despite the lopsided final score, Krizancic is still convinced the 4-0 Cardinals can be better and move closer to playing like an elite team.
“We are still trying to find roles and responsibilities for every one on this team,” Krizancic said. “We were hoping guys like Jeff (Foreman) and Brody (Nelson) would solidify things while we are waiting to get Brandon (Fritts) back (from a broken ankle) and while the football players get into shape. But, Jeff has been in foul trouble every game and Brody is just coming back from his injury. It hasn’t looked good for us the past two games, but we hope it will get better.”
Two players who have looked good in all four games this season for the unbeaten Cardinals continued their consistent play on Friday. Caleb Potter scored 15 of his team-high 22 points in the first half, and senior forward Michael Gallagher scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Mentor.
Foreman was very solid while battling foul trouble, attacking the rim and chipping in 15 points for the Cardinals.
South scored the first two points of the game, but Mentor was able to grab control of the game and take a 48-31 lead at the half. Most teams would be thrilled with a 17-point edge at the break and with a 24-point road win, but the Cardinals aren’t playing to the standards of most teams.
Mentor has now outscored its four opponents by a combined 126 points and yet players and coaches alike were looking for ways to improve moving forward.
“We need to get our chemistry down and get out in transition a little more,” Potter said. “A win is a win, but we need to clean some things up and get ready for Euclid (on Saturday).”
Gallagher, who has been the team’s most consistent performer all season according to Krizancic, echoed Potter’s thoughts about reading too much into the final score or the margin of victory.
“We know there are things we have to work on, and for us, it’s not about the final score but more about how we are playing,” Gallagher said.
“We have to come into the Euclid game with a lot of hustle and heart and hopefully with our home crowd behind us, we will have a lot of energy.”
South (2-5) got to within 14 points in the second half behind a game-high 25 points by senior guard Harry Chakerelis, but a 14-0 run by the Cardinals put the outcome away.
Mentor takes on former LEL rival Euclid on Saturday as the last game of the year in Ohio before heading to Tennessee to play in the Arby’s Classic. Krizancic is not downplaying the importance of the matchup with the Panthers.
“It’s a fun game that I think people are pointing to,” Krizancic said. “We are going in with a mission, not that it’s Euclid, but because we want to clean up some of our own ineptitude.”
The Cardinals - who got 11 points from Nelson off the bench, and an eight-point, eight-rebound night from Kade McClure - forced 21 turnovers.
South senior Kareem Hunt scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Rebels.
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