Sinking 13 of 25 3-pointers, the Cardinals ousted the Blue Devils 89-70 in the 33rd version of the tournament Wednesday morning at Viking Hall.
Mentor (7-2) advanced to today’s 1 p.m. sixth-place final against Father Henry Carr, which whipped Christian Academy of Knoxville 92-57. Also on Wednesday, Oak Ridge topped defending tournament champion North Mecklenburg, N.C., 56-54, and Taylor County, Ky., eliminated Urspring, Germany, 49-45. Oak Ridge and Taylor County play for fifth place today at 2:30 p.m.
Leading the Mentor barrage from downtown was Caden Kryz, who connected on 7 of 10 attempts and finished with a game-high 30 points.
“They sure shot the ball well,” said Gate City coach Scott Vermillion. “We also got the ball out and transitioned well. That running got us some layups in transition, so that was key. We just didn’t guard their 3-point shooters well.”
While the Blue Devils saw their tournament run end, Gate City freshman Zac Ervin left his mark, carving out a new tournament record for made free throws with 41 in only three games. Ervin topped the mark previously held by Archbishop Malloy’s Sundiata Gaines of 38 in 2003. Gaines needed 57 attempts for his record while Ervin needed only 46.
Ervin and Mac McClung did their best to help Gate City (5-2) keep pace with Mentor. Ervin finished with 28 points against the Cardinals and 76 in the tournament. McClung added 19 points and Hunter Collier pitched in with 10 on Wednesday.
“I was pleased with our effort,” Vermillion added. “I was pleased with our resolve again. We figured out where to go with the basketball, plus we got to the rim. We didn’t shoot a whole lot of perimeter shots.”
The Blue Devils played for a second straight game without John Reed Barnes, who sustained an ankle injury in the tournament and will be out for several weeks. Compounding the issue was the foul trouble encountered by McClung.
“Those fouls were legitimate,” Vermillion said. “It’s going to be a great teaching film for him to avoid getting those cheap fouls. A kid that plays the whole game needs to end the game with three (fouls) but not four or five. That did hurt us some. It took away an attacker. I still felt like Zac got to the rim. He attacked well. I still feel we played well against a good team.”
Mentor placed four players in double figures. In addition to Kryz, Tadas Tatarunas netted 13, Jack Korsok 11 and Allen Sims 10.
Father Henry Carr earned its sixth-place shot with a balanced scoring effort that saw eight Crusaders net six points or better. Shae Brown led the Crusaders with 16 points. Carlo Dubra added 15, Shamar Bradley 14 and Dan Kazumba 10. Bradley also fashioned a double-double with 10 rebounds.
After leading by 11 at halftime, Carr blistered the Warriors with a 51-17 second half.
Hunter Reynolds led CAK with 16 points followed by Isaiah Sulack and Bill Bower with eight each. Reynolds added three more 3-pointers to his tournament tally while Sulack added two. The duo accounted for 30 of the Warriors’ 35 3-pointers in the tournament.
As a team, CAK (8-7) was seven off the tournament record of 42 set by Mentor in 2010 and Sulack was three shy of the individual tournament record of 19 set by D.A. Layne of Marietta Wheeler in 1997.
The scoring slowed considerably in the fifth-place semifinal contests.
Tennessee football commit Tee Higgins hit two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to lift Oak Ridge over North Mecklenburg in their back-and-forth contest. Higgins’ winning foul shots came after the Vikings’ Jaylen McManus sank 1 of 2 charity tosses with 7.7 seconds left to knot the score.
Davion Mintz led all scorers with 15 points for North Mecklenburg (12-2), and Kendall Coles added 10. Higgins led Oak Ridge (16-1) with 13, Tajion Jones contributed 12 and Geevantay Gee had 10.
After trailing by as many as eight points twice in the first half, Taylor County used a 19-2 run to take a 30-21 lead and went on to oust the Germans.
The charity stripe was the difference in the game. The Cardinals made 23 of 27 attempts while Urspring was good on only 5 of 12.
David Sloan finished with 20 points, mostly at the foul line where he went 11-for-15, to lead Taylor County. Joel Aminu led Urspring with 22 points.