If there were any fans out there still questioning why just about every team that could go away from Mentor’s side of the bracket at the Division I Euclid District draw did just that to avoid the Cardinals, look no further than Tuesday night for the answer.
| Jeff Foreman led the Cardinals|
with 20 points
Chardon did not have the option of playing any other team in the district as the Hilltoppers ended up as the 12th seed in the field of 12. Mentor was all that was left when Chardon went on the board at the draw, and the rest of the field drew a sigh of relief - at least for a while.
The other side of the bracket would have been a much safer place Tuesday night, particularly with Mentor coming into the tournament fresh off a loss to Brunswick that cost the Cardinals a piece of the NOC Valley championship. Mentor hit 16 3-pointers and ripped through Chardon, 114-47, in a sectional semifinal at Harold “Doc” Daugherty Gymnasium.
It was the fourth time this season the Cardinals eclipsed the 100-point plateau and the 114 points were a season-high in points for Mentor.
The Cardinals will play Lakeside for a sectional title on Friday at 7 p.m. The Dragons were the 11 seed in the tournament and had just two options - play Mentor in the first round or take the only bye left and potentially play the Cardinals in the second round.
On Tuesday, Chardon scored first and led 3-0 on a triple by Ben Furlich. The rest of the night belonged to the scarlet and gray. Mentor led by 10 at the end of the first, the Cardinals increased the advantage to 49-22 at halftime and then hit six straight 3s and scored 39 points in the third quarter to extend the bulge to 53 points entering the fourth quarter.
“I liked the effort, I liked the transition game and I thought our defense was good,” Mentor coach Bob Krizancic said. “It was nice to get all the young kids out on the floor in the fourth quarter. That’s why we don’t take the bye. We hope to get some experience on the big court at Euclid for some of those other guys who don’t play all the time. And we got a good 15 to 17 minutes in of solid conditioning for our starters. Overall, it was a good game for us to play.”
Mentor senior guard Jeff Foreman scored 20 points before being pulled in the third quarter. Kyle Hagey came off the bench and poured in 19. Brody Nelson added 12 points and Caleb Potter hit three 3s in the third quarter and finished with 11.
Michael Gallagher had a big first half with 9 points and 7 rebounds before leaving with an injury early in the third quarter.
“Losing to Brunswick was hard, but we worked and this is more of how we want to play defensively and getting our in the open court,” Hagey said. “Brusnwick was a tough game and it was a tough loss. It’s good to bounce back big.”
Of the 15 players who got in the game for the Cardinals, 14 scored.
With the final outcome well determined by halftime, Potter said there was still plenty for the Cards to work on.
“We go out and try to clean up the little mistakes and be 100 percent perfect on every possession,” Potter said. “We are always confident, but it was good to see so many guys knock down shots. “
Mentor junior Brandon Fritts had seven points, including a crowd-pleasing two-hand jam in the second quarter.
The Cardinals are 18-5 this season and have won the last five Euclid district titles.