The stage is set.
It’s Mentor vs. Lake Catholic for a holiday hoops tournament title.
Better get to your seat early.
With neighborhood rivals hooking up in front of expected capacity crowd at Mentor, there should be plenty of drama. Well, at least more dramatic moments than were seen on Day 1 of the inaugural Mentor Holiday Hoops Tournament.
After Lake Catholic won the opener over Kirtland by 20 points, the host Cardinals flew past Riverside, 101-45, on Dec. 26. It was Mentor’s fourth straight victory following a season-opening loss in overtime to Garfield Heights.
“There were pockets of the game tonight, a few 2-minute spurts, where I was really pleased with our effort because the kids busted and it looked like we were going to tip every pass or get our hands on every ball,” Mentor coach Bob Krizancic said. “I thought the kids played hard and the energy was as good as it has been in a long time. I really liked the effort for the most part, and to get as many guys in as we did was good because we are still a very young team. I thought Jack Korsok (10 points) came in and was very good tonight.
“We are really looking forward to playing Lake Catholic because we expect it to be a tournament atmosphere. They are big and they play hard so we better play hard.”
Junior guard Kyle McIntosh paced the Cardinals (4-1) immediately, scoring 18 points in the first quarter as Mentor motored out to a 34-15 lead and were never threatened after the opening 8 minutes. McIntosh finished with a game-high 23 points.
Micah Potter had 18 points and a highlight reel dunk in transition off a pass from Andrew Valeri that caromed off the backboard and back to the junior for a two-handed slam. Joey Zaugg, the lone returning starter from last season, added 16 for Mentor.
The Cardinals led, 90-31, heading into the fourth quarter, but were limited to 11 points over the final 8 minutes of play.
On Dec. 27, Mentor and Lake Catholic will play for the holiday hoops tournament title at approximately 7:30 p.m. Kirtland and Riverside will open up the second day of play at 6 p.m.
“I think it will be fun. We want to play (Lake Catholic) and they want to play us,” McIntosh said. “We just have to come out and play hard right away, that’s a key.
“We are getting closer to where we want to be. We aren’t there yet, but we are on the way up.”