Now, it's all about the district tournament for the Mentor Cardinals.
The boys basketball team fell to Brunswick Friday night, 68-64, and emerged talking about the motivation the loss — and missing out on claiming a piece of the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division title — would provide for the upcoming OHSAA tournament.
“This is huge motivation for us going into the tournament because we lost the conference to Shaker Heights, who we had big leads on both times we played and weren’t able to finish them off,” senior guard Jeff Foreman told OhioVarsity.com. “This is the first time in my career at Mentor that we didn’t at least get a share of the league championship, and I am sure there will be people doubting us now. So we have to use that as motivation moving forward.”
The Cardinals finished the year with a 17-5 record, 7-3 in the NOC Valley Divisions.
District play begins for Mentor on Tuesday with a matchup against Chardon. Mentor's game and three other first-round tilts will be played at Euclid High School, 711 E 222nd St.
If Mentor wins, it would play No. 11 seed Ashtabula Lakeside on March 1. The winner of the Euclid District tournament would play the winner of the Alliance District on March 13.
The state championship will be played March 23 at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
Foreman led all scorers Friday with 27 points. Conner Krizancic scored 13 points and Brandon Fritts added 12.
“Give credit to Brunswick tonight," Foreman said. "They hit a bunch of threes early in the game and it seemed to deflate us and we never got into a rhythm.
"We were ready to play ... It is a game we will learn from and use hopefully to get better and be ready for whatever comes at us in the tournament.”