Just 11 games into the season and Mentor seems to doing something in January that Coach Bob Krizancic hopes he doesn't have to deal with in March.
The youthful Cardinals are thriving in the face of adversity.
With senior guards Andrew Valeri and Kyle McIntosh out with injury and junior standout Allen Sims limited by illness, Mentor found a way to go on the road and defeat Solon, 61-57, on Jan. 5.
The win was the first of 2016 for the Cardinals, who improved to 8-3 on the season and 3-1 in the Greater Cleveland Conference.
“We want to be playing meaningful games in late February and in March, so for our young guys to get this kind of experience on the road and win is huge with Valeri and McIntosh out,” Krizancic said.
“I told the guys we have a window of opportunity. I think we have a chance to grow and build with our youth and when we get healthy hopefully soon we can be a really good basketball team.”
Junior guard Jack Korsok led the Cardinals with a game-high 25 points. Sophomore Tadas Tatarunas added 12 points and Andrew Robinson chipped in 11 for Mentor.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 16-9 lead at the end of one quarter and were able to maintain control for the remainder of the night.
“We finally won the turnover battle and the free throw battle which we haven’t done this year,” Krizancic said. “Korsok scored and played well and we had a lot of young guys out there getting meaningful minutes. I am eager to see what we look like once we are healthy and playing together for a while.”
Mentor takes on GCC foe Elyria at home on Jan. 8. McIntosh could dress and see action for the first time this season against the Pioneers.
"We are 3-1 in the league which is huge and two of our three losses are in double overtime so we could have 9 or 10 wins," Krizancic said.
"Our young guys are getting valuable minutes and hopefully we are learning. It will be interesting to see what kind of team this is in February and March."