The return of Andrew Valeri, a 26-point third quarter and dominance in the pain by Micah Potter and Paul Sateika.
It was almost the perfect way to end a three-game losing streak for Mentor.
The Cardinals snapped a three-game slide by routing visiting Strongsville, 93-64, on Feb. 20.
Junior point guard Valeri returned from a thumb injury that kept him out a month and played solid minutes. Micah Potter and Paul Sateika did the majority of their damage in the paint for Mentor (11-8), combining for 37 points with Potter pouring in 25. The 6-foot-9 junior had 37 in the first meeting between the teams.
The Cardinals put the game away by outscoring the Mustangs, 26-10, in the third quarter and scored at least 20 points in all four quarters.
Senior Night was very successful on Center Street, but was slightly marred by the loss of guard Joey Zaugg, who suffered a possible concussion in the third quarter for Mentor and could miss a busy week that includes games against Collinwood, Brunswick and Medina.
“We might miss Joey for a week, we are used to that, but you have to love scoring 26 in the third quarter and 93 for the game,” Mentor coach Bob Krizancic said. “I can’t wait to see this team completely healthy, but that might be 8 or 9 days from now. We have to get 2 of 3 of these last games at least and hopefully make a nice run in the tournament.”
Thirteen players scored for Mentor, led by Potter, Sateika (12 points) and Kyle McIntosh (10 points) all in double digits.
The Cardinals play three games in five days to close the regular season before hosting Chardon in a Division I sectional semifinal on March 4.
Most important on Friday night, Mentor walked off the court with a victory for the first time since Jan. 31 to snap a rare three-game losing streak.
“It is definitely not fun sitting on a losing streak, so I thought tonight was huge for us,” Sateika said. “We were sharing the ball and having fun out there and that is more like how we want to play.”
Valeri played limited minutes and scored three points, but Krizancic was happy to have him back running the offense. Adam Smith scored eight points and Jack Korsok had seven for the Cardinals.
“It was just good to get back out there,” Valeri said.
“It’s not a good thing that Joe got hurt, obviously, but we have been in this situation before and I have confidence in all of our guys that they will step up. I think we will be fine until Joe comes back.”
Tyler Jamison led Strongsville with 10 points.
“We played a lot of underclassmen and got some real good minutes from Korsok, and Andrew Robinson started, so it really bodes well for the future,” Krizancic said. “We always seem to bounce back from losses and we had a great week of practice so now we just need to get healthy and get Joey back and see what we can do in the tournament.”