Mentor coach Bob Krizancic admits this has been a difficult season.
Injuries and close losses have tested the Cardinals, but Krizancic is confident Mentor can still be a dangerous team come tournament time.
The Cardinals rallied after trailing the entire game at Strongsville on Jan. 29, but fell to the Mustangs, 65-64.
It was another close setback for Mentor (9-8), which also has a pair of two-point losses to Brunswick and a 1-point setback against Shaker Heights on a half-court shot at the buzzer.
"It has been a trying season, but when we get everyone back healthy we still feel like we can be a good team." Krizancic said.
"We made a nice comeback after trailing all game to take a lead against Strongsville, but we need to take care of the ball better and have a better basketball IQ in certain situations no matter who is on the floor. We had a chance late and didn't execute. The next few weeks are like a preseason for us to prepare for the tournament now.:
Mentor trailed by eight entering the fourth quarter, but held a 64-62 lead in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. After Strongsville took a 1-point lead, the Cardinals were unable to close the deal on the final possession.
Sophomores Tadas Tatarunas and Caden Kryz played well for Mentor, combining for 27 points. Andrew Valeri (concussion) and Allen Sims (knee) returned from injury against the Mustangs, but the Cardinals are still missing guard Jack Korsok, who should return next week.