With 47 seconds left in regulation, it appeared the Mentor Cardinals were headed for a beautiful start to the 2014-2015 season.
Instead, things quickly unraveled and turned into an “ugly” opening-night loss for Coach Bob Krizancic and company.
Garfield Heights erased an 8-point deficit in the final minute of regulation to force overtime and pulled away in the extra session for an 81-74 win.
“You have to execute and play smart to win any game, and tonight, I felt like it was an ugly loss and yet I still saw some things that tell me we have a chance to be a pretty good basketball team,” Krizancic said. “There are little things that we needed to do at the end of the game and we didn’t. You have to make free throws especially with your guards. Our guys know that. They are great kids, they are smart and they work hard. It was just an ugly loss.”
A.J. Rose hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 65 for the Bulldogs (2-0) with 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter. A desperation 3 to win the game by the Cardinals (0-1) on the final shot of regulation was no good.
Overtime belonged to Garfield Heights, which gave Coach Sonny Johnson his first win at Mentor as a coach or player.
Joey Zaugg led Mentor with 24 points. Kyle McIntosh scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to help the Cardinals bolt out to a 63-55 lead with 47 seconds to play in regulation.
A long 3 by Frankie Hughes (game-high 28 points) cut the Cardinals lead to 64-60, followed by a free throw by Mentor and a layup by the Bulldogs to bring the score to 65-62 with under 20 seconds left.
The Cardinals turned the ball over on the next possession and A.J. Rose tied the game out of the deep corner.
“We did a lot of good tonight, but we are still working on our toughness and our execution,” Krizancic said.
“It was an ugly loss, but if we learn from it this can turn into a good loss for us.”
Andrew Valeri scored 13 points for the Cardinals. Mentor’s talented 6-foot-10 junior center Micah Potter finished with 10 points before fouling out.