Monday, March 27, 2023

Slow start dooms Mentor in home loss to Elyria

Mentor coach Bob Krizancic is rarely left without words to describe his team’s play – good or bad.

The Cardinals’ performance in a 65-50 loss at home to Elyria on Jan. 8 almost left the veteran coach speechless.

“I don’t have a lot of answers and there are a lot of things that are hard to explain,” Krizancic said. “I have probably coached 230 or 240 games here at home and I can’t remember a worse start to a game. We didn’t do anything well. I can’t remember a more listless first half. There are a lot of things that are hard to explain. That is the best comment I can make.”

From opening tap to final buzzer, the Pioneers dominated in every phase of the game as they upped their records to 6-4 overall and 3-2 in the GCC as Mentor fell to 8-4 overall and 3-2 in league play.

Elyria led, 21-5, at the end of one quarter and maintained the lead throughout. Mentor got as close to 48-40 in the second half, but never seriously threatened the visiting Pioneers.

“This was a great effort by our team,” Elyria’s Antonio Blanton said. “We wanted to get to every loose ball, contest every shot, grab every rebound and go hard to the basket on offense.”

Blanton netted a game-high 17 points to pace a balanced attack. Senior guard Blake Fulcron and sophomore center Justin Koepp added 11 and 10 points, respectively for Elyria.

“We played with very little energy and very little skill. We didn’t do anything particularly well,” Krizancic said.

Elyria on the other hand played with plenty of energy, skill and determination.

“This was a really strong effort by our guys,” Elyria coach Brett Larrick said. “We did an unbelievable job defensively in the first half and took it from there.”

The Pioneers had leads of 34-19 at halftime and 52-42 after three quarters.

Cardinals guard Jack Korsok led Mentor with 12 points. Sophomore forward Tadas Tatarunas had 11 points.

Mentor senior guard Kyle McIntosh, making his season debut after recovering from a knee injury, was held scoreless. The Cardinals were without the services of senior starting point guard Andrew Valeri. He missed a second straight game with concussion symptoms.

“We have a big game coming up against Medina next Friday so we will see how we react,” Krizancic said.

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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