It was a rough holiday trip to Nashville for the Mentor Cardinals in terms of success on the court.
Mentor lost to Norcross (GA), 71-39, on New Year’s Eve to finish 1-2 at the Next Level Hoop Fest and fall to 6-3 overall on the season.
However, Cardinals coach Bob Krizancic was looking into the new year and into the second half of the season and found a silver lining in the three games in Tennessee.
“We will absolutely come back from this tournament a better basketball team,” Krizancic said. We knew what kind of talent and what the resumes of the teams were when we agreed to play down here. I think we absolutely made the right decision to play in the tournament and we are going to be better for it.”
After a loss to host Christ Presbyterian Academy on Dec. 29, the Cardinals rallied for a 69-64 win over defending Arkansas state champ Episcopal on Dec. 30. Mentor rallied briefly against Norcross to tie the game at 22 in the second quarter, but that momentum was hindered by a cold shooting performance and several miscues against an aggressive defensive effort that allowed Norcross to push out to a double-digit halftime lead and roll to victory in the second half.
The Cardinals shot 7 of 34 from 3-point range and committed an uncharacteristic 27 turnovers.
“Their length and their speed bothered us, but we have to take better care of the basketball,” Krizancic said. “We were 7 of 34 but we had some good looks. Shots just didn’t fall. That isn’t an excuse. Norcross is legitimate. That is a very good team and we had some struggles against them.”
Micah Potter finished off a solid three days with 14 points and 11 rebounds for Mentor. Andrew Valeri added eight points for the Cardinals.
Mentor returns home and will play John Hay at Baldwin-Wallace on Jan. 4.