Mentor, Brush Boys basketball teams experience high-level competition at Midwest Live – News-Herald

SANDUSKY — On June 24, the basketball coaching associations of Ohio and Michigan brought together their states’ top teams at Cedar Point Sports Center in Sandusky.

The Brush Arcs and Mentor Cardinals were among the few Greater Cleveland teams selected to play competitive Michigan.

“It’s always good to compete against others, especially others at a high school (basketball) level,” Arcs coach Chet Mason said. “It gives you a chance to see what your guys (can do). Right now we don’t have a team because it’s summer. We have guys coming back from last year, but your team will form in November. You can see who has been in the gym and pass judgment on some of the guys you have back.

Waiting for players is an opportunity. With the level of competition being so high, it caught the attention of coaches in Division I programs across the country.

“All of these coaches have connections,” mentor coach Bob Krizancic said. “If all of our guys can’t play (at the DI level), … those guys have somebody they knew in Division II and little Division I (school). A lot of our guys got a lot of scholarships and looks because of it.

Junior guard Ian Ioppolo for Mentor is not committed to a school. He led Mentor in scoring in their two wins over DI Kalamazoo Central (45-42) and Detroit Western International (62-54).

“For (Ioppolo’s) height, he shoots the ball very well. He has become a very good ball handler at 6-foot-7 and scores around the paint. I think if he can get (more) strength in the paint, I think he’s definitely (a Division I college basketball player),” Krizancic said.

Ioppolo (15.1 ppg in 2021-22) showed what he could do by scoring 34 points against DWI and 17 against Kalamazoo Central.

“Before the game, my shooting was really good. I felt confident when I went out there,” Ioppolo said. “I don’t know how many I have. I’m just happy that I can help the team and win the game.

Ioppolo thought Midwest Live gave him the same feeling as AAU tournaments.

“It feels like an AAU environment,” he said. “I love playing against the best of the best. We play some Michigan teams, which I like because we don’t see those types of teams. It’s so much fun (to be a part of that).

It’s not every day that Mentor faces teams from out of state, and Ioppolo thought the biggest difference was the physics of the game.

Brush lost both games to Michigan State finalists DI Grand Blanc (35-33) and Detroit MLK (43-32) with a new backcourt.

Brush faced Detroit MLK at the Midwest Live Tournament on Friday, June 24, 2022 at Cedar Point Sports Center

In Game 1, Brush trailed 10-0 early, but his offense found a rhythm to score points. The game was wire to wire and came down to a last-second shot from Grand White’s RJ Taylor to take the win.

“Experience is the best teacher,” Mason said. “These guys haven’t been through this yet. They don’t have the experience of having the ball in their hands (at this level) and demand to make plays and lead a team. It’s new to them, and they have to figure it out on the fly.

Brush and Mentor will return to Cedar Point Sports Center on June 25. The Arcs will play at Champions Court to take on Division II runners-up Grand Rapids Catholic Central and take on North Farmington later in the day.

Mentor will face Romulus Summit Academy and Lansing Waverly. Local powerhouses such as Gilmour and Richmond Heights will also play on June 25.

PHOTOS: Brush Boys basketball at Midwest Live Tournament, June 24, 2022

PHOTOS: Mentor boys basketball at the Midwest Live tournament, June 24, 2022