Head coach Bob Krizancic was in rare form Friday night after the Mentor Cardinals romped to a 95-57 victory over host Medina.
Normally very demanding and detail-oriented, Krizancic was instead quite complimentary of his squad, which upped its record to 16-3, 6-1 in the Northeast Ohio Conference.
This is a very important stretch for Mentor, which plays at Shaker Heights Tuesday and hosts Garfield Heights Friday. With Garfield Heights losing to Brunswick Friday, the Cardinals now find themselves alone in first place in the Valley Division of the NOC, one game ahead of next week’s foes.
It also was important because Krizancic was very unhappy with his team’s effort in a 104-93 victory over Strongsville last Tuesday.
“That was our best team effort of the year, especially defensively,” Krizancic said of the Medina game. “We needed a good night going into Shaker Heights/Garfield Heights week and we got it. I thought the guys really responded after playing a really poor game on Tuesday.”
Things were so good against the Bees that Krizancic was able to pinpoint the first 1 minute, 7 seconds of the second half, a stretch that saw the Cardinals score eight points while forcing three consecutive turnovers and not allowing Medina to get off a shot.
“That was the best minute we’ve played all year,” Krizancic said.
That stretch turned a formidable 38-23 halftime lead into a 46-23 blowout. But it wasn’t always that easy, especially in the first half. Medina came out battling and held a 10-6 lead just 2:21 into the contest. Mentor then hit a 9-0 spurt to take a 15-10 lead, but with 3:35 remaining in the half, the margin had been cut to two, 23-21.
That’s when the Cardinals hit one of their patented runs, making it 38-23 at the half. The 8-0 spurt to open the third quarter made it 46-23, and then Jeff Foreman completed a three-point play to make it 49-23. When it was all added up, Mentor put together a monster 26-2 run and the rout was on.
“Coach talks a lot about those runs,” said Foreman, who scored his team-leading 20 points in the first three quarters. “Basketball is a game of runs. When we get our tempo going and play the way we want, that’s what happens.”
As is often the case with Mentor, the 26 points in the big run were shared. Foreman had six, Kade McClure, Brandon Fritts and Kent Berger each had five, Caleb Potter had three and Brody Nelson had two. Four 3-pointers were made during the stretch as well as five layups and four free throws.
“I think we wore them down,” Krizancic said. “Our defensive pressure really took its toll. At that point we took the ball to the hole. We attacked and then kicked it out and knocked down some shots.”
It was a very physical contest that saw 52 fouls called (23 on Mentor), three players foul out, two technical fouls and three double fouls when players became tangled and couldn’t separate without pushing and shoving. The only negative aspect of the night was that the Cardinals missed 12 free throws, making 19 of 31.
Potter backed Foreman’s 20 points with 18 of his own. Fritts, who appears closer and closer to 100% with each game played, added 13 points and McClure had 11. Nelson chipped in with eight points and Michael Gallagher had seven.
“We’re getting healthier and we’re getting smarter,” Krizancic said. “I thought Foreman did a great job defensively. He’s also had three solid games in a row with the ball. He’s becoming better and better as a point guard.”