MENTOR — The Mentor boys basketball team plays the game like the Belmont Stakes.
Brunswick knew that, and the Blue Devils kept the Cardinals in their stables for the most part for three quarters. The problem with Mentor’s run-and-gun style is if one pony gets free, it can be the difference between winning and losing.
That is what happened Friday, when the Cardinals played a brilliant fourth quarter to beat Brunswick 72-67 in Greater Cleveland Conference action.
“At the end of the day, they have a lot of horses,” Blue Devils coach Joe Mackey said. “Their horses are a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger. Their horses are just a little bit more talented than ours.
“It wasn’t from lack of effort. Our guys played really hard. They’re just really good.”
The Cardinals (15-1, 10-1) proved it by taking the best shot from Brunswick (9-10, 5-6) and then delivering haymaker after haymaker in the second half.
While Kyle Goessler (29 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists), Trey Massey (15 points) and Trevor Mackey (13 points, 5 assists) were able to match the guard play, Mentor ate the Blue Devils up underneath.
To compound things, the Blue Devils lost Josh Stacho (ankle) to injury, leaving one less man to cover Chad Rogers (29 points, 7 rebounds) and Mason Trubisky (11, 10).
Down 31-24 at the break, the Cardinals rode the duo in the second half. Rogers scored 17 after intermission, while Trubisky had 10.
“They were a real problem tonight,” Massey said. “They’re two really good post-up players. We knew they had good guards, so we were really focused on that, but our lack of height and how big they are, they played really well. It was tough.”
The 6-foot-5 post players played much bigger than that and it showed as Mentor continued to chip away at Brunswick’s lead.
Trailing by only one after three quarters, the Cardinals opened the fourth on a 14-3 run to give thems their largest lead of the night at 10 with 3:11 to play.
“Their shots just really started falling and ours stopped,” Goessler said. “A lot of the shots that were falling for us started going in and out. We were still getting good shots like we thought we would.
“We knew coming in they were a really good team, but we knew we had a shot. We’re a dangerous team that can shoot the ball well.”
“There’s a reason they have the record they do,” Joe Mackey said. “You take away their guards and their post can beat you. Take away the post and the guards will beat you. You don’t have to play perfect, but you have to play close to perfect.
“I thought we did. A month ago, we wouldn’t have been able to play against a team like this. We’re trending upward, but I’ve never lost a game and felt good about it. It’s hard to smile.”
The Brunswick junior varsity overcame a five-point halftime deficit to win 53-45. Brayden Hamilton led the way with 18 points.
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mentor 72, Brunswick 67
BRUNSWICK 17 14 19 17 — 67
MENTOR 9 15 25 23 — 72
Brunswick — Tre Massey 6-1-15, J.C. Asturi 1-0-3, Max Ferrell 1-0-3, Trevor Mackey 6-0-13, Kyle Goessler 11-2-29, Josh Stacho 0-0-0, Jeff Buttitta 1-2-4, Joe Huner 0-0-0, Brayden Hamilton 0-0-0. TOTALS: 26-5-67.
Mentor — Alex Edwards 4-0-11, Chad Rogers 12-5-29, Mason Tribusky 4-3-11, Luke Chicone 1-5-8, Luke Floriea 5-0-13, Caleb Piks 0-0-0, Ian Kipp 0-0-0. TOTALS: 26-13-72.
3-pont goals — Goessler 5, Massey 2, Mackey, Asturi, Ferrell, Floreia 3, Edwards 3, Chicone. Rebounds — Brunswick 25 (Farrell 8), Medina 30 (Trubisky 10). Assists — Brunswick 19 (Mackey 5), Mentor (Floriea 7). Records — Brunswick (9-10, 5-6), Mentor (15-1, 10-1). Junior varsity — Brunswick 53, Mentor 45.