That’s more like it.
Following a difficult loss at Garfield Heights, the Mentor Cardinals were in desperate need of a pick-me-up.
A dominant second half and a decisive victory over the Euclid Panthers less than 24 hours later was a step in the right direction for Coach Bob Krizancic and company.
Despite missing two starters, Mentor overcame a slow start and got back on the winning track with an 86-62 win over Euclid on Jan. 31.
Cardinals junior Micah Potter scored 25 points despite foul trouble and senior guard Joey Zaugg added 22 as Mentor outscored Euclid, 47-26, in the second half to pull away for the win and improve to 10-5 on the season.
“It was huge because we didn’t have a good day Friday. We proved we can still play well as a team and beat good teams,” Zaugg said.
The Panthers (2-11) led by one at the end of the first quarter and were even with the Cardinals midway through the second quarter when Coach Gary Hicks was assessed two technicals and ejected from the game. Zaugg hit four free throws to give Mentor a 31-27 lead and the Cardinals never trailed again.
“It was huge for us (for momentum). I can’t control that. I can control my own technicals. But Joey making all four technical free throws was huge. And to play well at the start of the third quarter was good to see,” Krizancic said.
“Micah played phenomenally and Joey stepped up huge. It was really good to see those two play with confidence. Especially with two starters on the bench in street clothes.”
Andrew Valeri and Paul Sateika were out again as they were in a 19-point loss at Garfield Heights on Jan. 30, but Mentor was able to overcome the losses against Euclid. The Cardinals nearly equaled their point total against the Bulldogs in the first half against the Panthers as Mentor led, 39-36, at the break.
The second half against Euclid was more typical Mentor with an up-tempo game featuring defensive pressure and transition baskets from 3-point range and layups. The Cardinals held the Panthers to 26 points over the final 16 minutes and pulled away for a convincing and much-needed win.
“I think we are headed in the right direction. We have a big game against Shaker on Friday so hopefully we can keep going,” Potter said.
“This game is huge for our confidence.”
Kyle McIntosh scored 12 points and Austin Koss added 8 for Mentor. Jack Korsok and Ian Tenkku each chipped in with 7 for the Cardinals.
Mentor plays host to Shaker Heights on Feb. 6 and travels to 14-1 South on Feb. 7.
“Both games should be tournament type atmospheres which is good,” Krizancic said. “You add Brunswick and Massillon Jackson coming up and we will definitely see where we are at.”