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Brunswick vs. Mentor boys basketball: Cardinals fall behind early in 76-68 defeat

Jan. 29—BRUNSWICK — Mentor wasn't able to establish its tempo in a Greater Cleveland Conference clash Jan. 29 at Brunswick Jan. 29. The Cardinals played to the Blue Devils' speed and fell behind early.

The Cardinals had several chances to cut the deficit to one possession but were never able to get over the hump.

They fell, 76-68, and created a tie atop the GCC standings. Mentor is 8-5 on the season.

Brunswick was guided by the trio of Quinn Barnett, Trey Drexler and Aiden Shaker. Barnett and Drexler had 20 a piece while Shaker had 11 points and rebounds.

They also played key parts in running the Brunswick and limiting itself to 10 turnovers. Mentor coach Bob Krizancic said his team plays best when it generates turnovers, but the Blue Devils' experience at the point made that a challenge.

PHOTOS: Mentor vs. Brunswick boys basketball, Jan. 29, 2024

"They have three good guards and when we aren't able to press them like we want, we aren't going to score like we have been," Krizancic said. "It was a challenge going against all three that can play the point. They shoot well and play well here. We took some low percentage shots early in the game and it felt like we were always in that 6-12 point deficit and trying to play catch-up all game."

Mentor was led by Ian Ioppolo and Matt Biddell with 25 and 24 points, respectively. Ioppolo had a 5-0 run on his own to end the first half and had Mentor within six at intermission.

The Cardinals also got the lead down to five midway through the third quarter, but Brunswick converted two turnovers into quick points.

Krizancic said Mentor needed to find better shots and not settle for the first look they created. When the Cardinals can't create turnovers and run the floor, they need to create other ways to turn up the pace on their offensive side of the court.

"When we aren't turning them over and creating the runs, it's a challenge," Krizancic said. "I'm not saying we live by that style of play but when we play fast, it's when we play best. The inability to create turnovers was the key of the game. All of their guards controlled the game."

Midway through the first, Kobe Frasure-Azzano suffered a foot injury after a layup and did not return to the game. Connor O'Brien, Ayo Olulami and Marcus Sierputowski saw extended playing time for the remainder of the game.

O'Brien had an immediate impact when he came in with a contested layup followed by drawing a foul on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws.

Mentor also has Ryan Calo out with an injury. Krizancic said getting the experience now can help the Cardinals once the playoffs begin.

"When someone gets hurt, it gives others chances for those minutes," Krizancic said. "We need to wait and see on Kobe but the key is that we still have time to get healthy with him and Ryan. We are also getting the depth experience now and our press has to work."

Tommy Morgan also finished in double figures for the Blue Devils with 10 points.

The Cardinals stay on the road when they travel to Medina on Feb. 2 for another GCC battle.

THE SCORE

Brunswick 76, Mentor 68