For most of the season, Mentor coach Bob Krizancic felt like he has only seen glimpses of his team due to various injuries and illnesses.
On Sunday in a Division I sectional championship demolition of visiting John Adams, Krizancic saw the Cardinals in full flight.
Mentor scored 31 points in the first quarter and overwhelmed John Adams, 108-54. With the victory, the Cardinals advance to the district semifinals at Solon on March 12 where they will face Warren Harding.
With guards Joey Zaugg (concussion) and Andrew Valeri (thumb) back close to full strength, Kyle McIntosh playing a solid game on the perimeter (13 first-half points) and Micah Potter and Paul Sateika doing most of their damage around the basket, Mentor cruised past he Rebels and into the next round of the postseason.
All 15 players that entered the game for Mentor (15-9) scored, led by Potter with 16 and Zaugg and McIntosh 13 each. The Cardinals knocked down 18 3-pointers, four off the school record.
“Getting healthy is huge for us, and this is one of the first games in a long time where we had the normal starting five in there and I saw some really good things out there,” Krizancic said. “With the depth we have developed and getting some key minutes from the two freshmen (Caden Kryz and Tadas Tatarunas), I like where we are.
“One thing we know is from this point on you are going to play some really good teams. You walk into Solon and you feel the energy. So we need 3 good days of practice and we need to play hard every possession, even harder than we did today.”
At halftime, Mentor led 56-23 and Potter and McIntosh combined to outscore John Adams (26-23) over the first 16 minutes of play.
It was a fond farewell for the seniors, who played their final game on the home floor at Mentor. Zaugg and Sateika both commented on the specialness of the moment, but also turned the focus to moving forward in the D-I Solon bracket.
“We’ve got our full roster back and things are falling into place so I think we have a ton of confidence right now and we are really ready to get after it,” Zaugg said. “We just hope to make a run in the end.”
McIntosh knocked down four of the 18 3s and said it was nice to have a full team around him and everyone contributing.
“I think having everybody healthy was great today and we can now get back to playing Mentor basketball,” McIntosh said.
Sateika had eight points and was very active around the rim, especially on offensive rebounds. He pointed to the Mentor schedule in the regular season and navigating a large portion of it without a full lineup as a reason for optimism heading to the district tournament.
“I think the good thing about playing in Tennessee and other tough places is we are going to be prepared for anything moving forward,” Sateika said. “It’s not like we are going to see something we haven’t seen, so I think our confidence is up and we are ready for the next challenge.”
Jack Korsok added nine points and Nick Novotny chipped in eight for the Cardinals.