There were 14 lead changes during the first three quarters in a Division I boys basketball state semifinal March 22 at Ohio State. In the fourth quarter, the Mentor High School team finally got the better of Northland, the state’s top-ranked team, 80-69.
Mentor, which improved to 24-5, was 13-for-16 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and 26 of 31 overall.
The Cardinals will play Cincinnati Walnut Hills or Toledo Rogers for the title at 8:30 p.m. March 23 at Ohio State.
The Vikings finished 28-1.
“I thought it came down to the fact that we couldn’t stop them from going to the cup in the second half,” Northland coach Sean Taylor said. “I thought we did well contesting their 3-point shots but usually we don’t get beat off the dribble so much.”
Mentor made just six of 20 from 3-point range, but was 18-for-23 on two-pointers.
The Cardinals led 20-17 after one quarter, 35-32 at the half and 56-54 heading into the final quarter, but didn’t seize full control until they went on a 9-2 run to take a 70-63 lead with 2 minutes, 53 seconds left.
Senior forward Jeff Foreman was 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final period and finished with 20 points to lead Mentor. Junior guard Connor Krizancic and senior guard Brody Nelson both added 17 points.
Mentor outrebounded Northland 27-19.
The Vikings got 19 points off the bench from junior guard Ty Hairston. Senior forward Armani Towns and freshman forward Seth Towns each scored 12 points and junior guard Derek McKeithen had 11 points.