by Don DiFrancesco
MENTOR, OHIO– Mentor looked to be in good position to win on Saturday night vs. Cornerstone Christian Academy (CCA). They had a 44-35 lead after three quarters, and had held CCA’s dynamic guard Michael Bothwell to only seven points.
But the first basket of the fourth quarter was a 3-pointer for Cornerstone’s Kendall Saunders. That was followed by two long range threes from Bothwell on CCA’s next two possessions. And just like that, Mentor’s lead had evaporated. To make matters worse for the Cardinals, they incredibly failed to score another point until Shane Zalba nailed a 3-pointer with 1:54 remaining. That basket was the only one made by Mentor in the fourth quarter, and CCA tallied three late free throws to send the game to overtime tied at 47.
In the first overtime Bothwell connected on four baskets, the final one a scintillating drive through traffic giving Cornerstone a 58-56 lead with 4.8 seconds to play. But Zalba had an answer for Mentor. He received the inbound pass in the backcourt and dribbled nearly all the way to the basket, getting off a shot just before the buzzer sounded. When it banked in, the game was tied at 58 and it was on to a second overtime period.
CCA controlled the game from that point on, grabbing all rebounds and outscoring Mentor 9-2 in the second overtime. The Patriots received a scare when Bothwell had to leave the game with leg cramps with 2:22 to play. But he returned to action later in the game.
Cornerstone Christian (10-7) was led in scoring by Michael Bothwell who finished with a game-high 25 points. But it wasn’t easy for the 6-foot-3 senior guard. He hit a 3-pointer in the game’s first minute, but was held scoreless from that point until three minutes into the second half. Kendall Saunders kept the Patriots in contention with nine first-half points and 15 for the game. Ricky Adams scored 10 points off the bench.
Mentor (12-6) was led by Shane Zalba with 19 points. Matt Koski and Tadas Tatarunas each contributed 12 points to the Cardinals’ total.
Cornerstone Christian Academy
NEO Sports Insiders Newsletter
Sign up to receive our NEOSI newsletter, and keep up to date with all the latest Cleveland sports news.