A perfect start to the season for the Mentor Cardinals ended with a less-than-perfect end to the game at Elyria on Jan. 6.
Mentor held an eight-point halftime lead and led by six at the end of three quarters, but were outscored, 21-10, in the fourth quarter in a 74-69 loss to the Pioneers.
“We weren’t very good in the fourth quarter and we weren’t tough in the paint and that’s not going to get it done in a road game in the GCC,” Mentor coach Bob Krizancic said.
“We had no two-point baskets in the final quarter. That is all about being tough in the paint and taking it to the basket and we didn’t do that. We need to get better. Hopefully we will learn from the loss, but it is a tough game to lose because we had it and didn’t finish.”
Mentor started the season 6-0, but Elyria handed the Cardinals their first loss of the season by rallying in the final 8 minutes.
Jack Korsok led Mentor with 16 points and Shane Zalba added 14 for the Cardinals, who led, 59-53, heading into the fourth quarter.
Caden Kryz hit four 3s and finished with 12 points for Mentor, but the Cardinals were unable to hold off the Pioneers down the stretch.
“We have to get tougher in the paint, that is what good teams do especially when you get to the tournament,” Krizancic said. “The big thing for us is to get back in the gym and work on the things we didn’t do well. We did some good things, but not enough to win on the road in this conference. Road games are brutal and you have to be tougher than we were.”
Manning Trubisky scored 10 points and Matt Koski continued his stellar season off the bench with 9 for the Cardinals.
“We got outscored, 13-3, late in the game after having the lead in the fourth quarter and that can’t happen,” Krizancic said. “We had some guys play OK, not great. That’s not enough and we know we have to get better. We have to get tougher around the basket, we have to rebound better and we have to be stronger in the paint. Good basketball teams do that. What we are right now is still up in the air.”
Elyria improved to 7-2 overall and 3-1 in the league while Mentor fell to 6-1 and 4-1 in the GCC.
The Pioneers got 28 points from standout Antonio Blanton.
Elyria 74, Mentor 69
Mentor (6-1, 4-1 GCC): Korsok 16, Trubisky 10, Koski 9, Blessing 2, Zalba 14, Tatarunas 6, Kryz 12
Elyria (7-2, 3-1 GCC): Oliver 6, Brown 13, Blanton 28, Lotko 16, Koepp 11
Mentor 17 25 17 10 — 69
Elyria 20 14 19 21 — 74
Free throws: Mentor 6 of 8, Elyria 11 of 19; 3-pointers: Mentor 11 (Kryz 4, Zalba 2, Korsok 2, Trubisky 2, Koski), Elyria 7 (Blanton 4, Brown 2, Lotko); Rebounds: Mentor 30, Elyria 33; JV: Mentor 74, Elyria 57