Some teams would have a tough time bouncing back after watching their leading scorer go down with an injury in the first half of a tough league game against a scrappy opponent.
For Mentor, having to overcome adversity this winter is no different than putting on the scarlet and gray uniform or taking a deep breath.
Cardinals guard Andrew Robinson, who scored 27 in a win over Villa Angela-St. Joseph, was lost in the first half to a possible head injury, but Mentor responded by shooting the ball effectively from the field (57 percent), taking care of the ball (only one turnover in the fourth quarter) and got good scoring balance with five players in double figures en route to an 85-75 win over visiting Solon.
Senior guard Andrew Valeri, who scored 13 points and had several key drives to the basket in the fourth quarter, was among the Cardinals who missed time this year with various injuries. He said being forced to overcome missing pieces to the puzzle has only made the team stronger.
“Unfortunately the way this has gone this year, seeing someone get hurt is like second nature. You don't ever want to see it but we are almost used to it now," Valeri said. "I think we were fortunate to be hurt all season. We’re fortunate to know how to play with those (reserve) guys. We’re kicking it into shape.”
Mentor (11-9) had a 12-point third-quarter lead trimmed to one possession, but still had enough to push it back out to a double-digit win.
Sophomore Tadas Tatarunas scored 15 to led the Cardinals. Jack Korsok, Caden Kryz and Allen Sims all chipped in with double-digit scoring for Mentor.
“I think it’s coming together, I really do,” Mentor coach Bob Krizancic said. "We want to have great effort and play hard and really start developing that depth and getting ready for the tournament."
At one point, Solon trailed, 56-43. But a Comets 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, cut the Mentor lead to a basket before another push had it back out to seven points a minute later on two Kyle McIntosh free throws.
“Defensively, we did a good job there,” Krizancic said. “We took the ball to the hole. Layup. Layup. Layup. That’s a good sign because those are games we’ve lost before.”
Reid Thompson led Solon with a game-high 32 points to go with nine rebounds.
Aside from his 15 points, Tatarunas had a team-high nine rebounds. Korsok finished with six assists and eight rebounds, and Valeri dished out six assists.
“Practices have been great,” Krizancic said. “That’s the best thing I can say about this team. Having that stretch where we lost three in OT by 2, 1 and 1, practice got better. We learned.”