Thursday, October 6, 2022

New look Cardinals top Dobyns-Bennett, 69-51

Mentor coach Bob Krizancic was looking for some energy in an early 10:30 a.m. tipoff Dec. 29 in the second round of the Arby's Classic in Bristol, Tenn.

So the veteran coach of almost 600 wins and two state titles used a new starting lineup with players who usually come off the bench and the move worked like a tidal wave of water in the face to wake up to in order to start the day.

The Cardinals scored 18 of the first 20 points of the game and overcame 34 fouls en route to a 69-51 win over Dobyns-Bennett.

Mentor (6-2) lost in the opening round of the tournament in double overtime to David Crockett, but responded with a huge opening flurry vs. Dobyns-Bennett with a lineup that hasn't been used this season.

The Cardinals will play Gate City (VA) in an even earlier tipoff at 9 a.m. on Dec. 30.

"We were looking for some energy and a spark so we went with a new lineup and they responded and got after it," Krizancic said. "They got steals, hit the boards, played hard and that was exactly what we wanted. Got out to an 18-2 lead and were up by 10 or 12 most of the rest of the game."

Caden Kryz and Pat Levar were two of the new starters and they scored nine points and seven points, respectively. Jack Korsok led a balanced Mentor attack with 11 points. Overall, 11 different Cardinals scored in the win.

Xavier Cheek, a 6-foot-8 forward, started for the first time and scored six points and grabbed nine rebounds. Sophomore Tadas Tatarunas added nine points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Tatarunas has 27 rebounds in the two tournament games.

"This team is very different than teams we have had in the past in that usually we get killed on the boards but handle the ball well. This team does very well rebounding but we have been a little sloppy handling the basketball," Krizancic said. "We definitely have to clean up the turnovers, but we have a lot of young guys out there learning every game."

Mentor led, 23-13, at the end of one quarter and were up 15 at the half before cruising to the victory in the second half.

The Cardinals need two more wins to come through the consolation bracket and claim sixth place.

"Our guys know what is expected out of them and while you don't want to be playing in the lower bracket and you always want a chance at the championship, if we can win two more games and finish sixth in an elite tournament that would be huge for this group. I know that we will be a better team when we get back to Ohio having played down here."

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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