BRISTOL – Mentor (Ohio) made it back to Arby’s Classic championship game for the second straight season and Urspring (Germany) reached the final for the second time in three years Saturday night at Viking Hall.
Mentor held off Memphis Melrose, 66-63, despite not making a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Malik Muller, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound combo guard scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds – both game-highs – to fuel Urspring’s 59-53 win against defending champion Christ School (Arden, N.C.) in the semifinal nightcap.
Muller made 4 of 7 3-pointers. His stick-back gave the Germans a 52-43 lead with 3:18 left and he added a 15-foot pull-up that made it 54-46 with 2:41 to play.
“He’s playing an outstanding tournament and I’m happy to have such a guy on the team,” Urspring coach Ralph Junge said.
Christ School was hard to put away thanks, in part, to former Science Hill players Jaylen Allen and 6-foot-8 Shannon Hale. Allen scored 13 of his team-high 20 in the final 9:21. He made three of his four 3-pointers during that stretch and Hale (11 points, three steals) made a trey that got the Greenies within 52-46 with 3:02 left.
“That No. 2 (the 6-foot-3 left-handed Allen) was a tough matchup,” Junge said. “He had a fantastic game.”
Zaire Thompson scored 10 points for Urspring. Jon Elmore had 10 for Christ School.
Urspring has been in eight of the first 30 Arby’s Classics – all since 2001 when Junge was playing. It lost to Columbia (Decatur, Ga.) in the title game in 2010.
“We’ll try to give it a shot again,” Junge said. “Mentor’s a tough team to play. They’re very unusual, especially for us.
“No team in Germany is playing that kind of basketball. We’ve got to think about (them). We’ve got a day off, so that’s just fantastic.”
Conner Krizancic paced five double-figure scorers with 14 points for perimeter-oriented Mentor. Krizancic and Caleb Potter each made four 3-pointers for the Cardinals, who finished 12 of 35 behind the arc.
Potter’s trey with two seconds left in the third quarter gave Mentor a 60-52 lead. It was the team’s final field goal.
The Cardinals made 6 of 8 free throws in the final period, including a pair from Jeff Foreman that made it 66-63 with 6.8 seconds left.
Donte Fitzpatrick’s game-tying 3-point attempt from the left wrong didn’t miss by much at the buzzer.
“We got away with one,” Mentor coach Bob Krizancic said. “I’m sure we were nervous. They’re extremely athletic. I just think we’ve got to do a much better job taking care of the basketball. … We came here to win it.”
Melrose played half the game without point guard K.C. Goodwin, a Southern Illinois signee.
“He was playing awesome and then he had to say something back to me … in the second quarter,” Melrose coach Jermaine Johnson said. “We lost three games this year, and every game we’ve lost we’ve had a mental breakdown of some sort. And we’ve done missed about 15 layups. I mean, 28 for 67 – come on, man. …
“Give them credit. They’re a very disciplined team.”
Jamerrio Jones led Melrose with 14 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Center Terry Winn had 10 points and six rebounds before fouling out.
The championship is Monday at 6:30 p.m. Melrose takes on Christ School in the third-place game at 5 p.m.