The dream lives on..
The Mentor Cardinals secured their first ever trip to the state’s final four last night, overcoming a 14 point deficit and defeating favored St. Edward 61-57 at the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University, in front of a crowd of 3800. Mentor will play Cincinnati Moeller on Friday night in Columbus, with the winner getting the winner of Gahanna Lincoln and Massillon Jackson.
Mentor’s chances of winning the state title were given a boost when Gahanna Lincoln upset the number one ranked team in the country, Columbus Northland 71-45. Northland boasts two players headed to Ohio State, including the number two ranked recruit in the country, Jared Sullinger.
Things didn’t start off well for the Cardinals. St. Edward led 16-8 after one quarter, and 29-19 at the half. The Eagles used their size advantage inside. Mentor couldn’t find the hoop as they missed 20 of their first 22 three point attempts.
Then Mentor got hot..
Down by as much as 12 in the third quarter, Mentor used a 14-2 scoring run to take their first lead of the game at 36-35. With the game tied at 42, the Cardinals went on a 5-0 run to take a lead they would never give up. Helped by steals off their full court pressing defense, Mentor was able to hit free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
The key to the game: Besides getting St. Edward to turn the ball over, the defensive effort of the Cardinals should not be overlooked. They held St. Edward’s “twin towers” of 6-10 Louisville recruit James Price, and 6-9 Matt Stainbrook to two points and one rebound combined in the second half. In a quote to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, St. Edward coach Eric Flannery agreed. “The big difference was turnovers. We did not do a good job of taking care of the basketball”.
Mentor was led by junior guard Cole Krizancic with 21 points, followed by sophomore Justin Fritts with 13 points. Carmen Alosio added 12 points and 7 rebounds. After seven regional appearances without a state finals berth, it has to be a sweet feeling those Mentor kids are waking up to this morning.
Scouting Gahanna Lincoln. They are the number two ranked team in the state of Ohio, and boast an undefeated record of 26-0. They are led by junior guard Stevie Taylor (see video below). They defeated Dublin Coffman 59-53 in the regional semi-final before upsetting heavily favored Northland. Mentor will be facing a balanced scoring attack, and a team that has a deep bench, as they play as many as ten players.
For more on Lincoln’s star player Stevie Taylor, click here.
It won’t be an easy task for the Cardinals, but after taking down mighty St. Edward, they are flowing with confidence. It should be one whale of a game this Friday night in Columbus.