Strongsville -- Dave Close can accept the mistakes.
He can accept a missed shot, an errant pass or subpar defense from time to time.
But there is one thing the longtime Stow-Munroe Falls head boys basketball coach will not accept.
He never wants to see his team lack toughness.
Unfortunately for Close, he believes that was the case Dec. 11.
The Bulldogs fell to 2-2 on the season after losing a 65-54 decision to Strongsville on the road.
The Mustangs, who made 12 three-pointers, took advantage of the hustle plays down the stretch to pick up their first win of the season. Strongsville improved to 1-3 after the victory.
"I was most disappointed in our lack of toughness," Close said. "I always expect us to compete and battle. It seemed like we were going through the motions."
It started off OK for Stow.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 9-3 lead, but the Mustangs quickly responded with a 10-0 run. All the momentum went to Strongsville with a little more than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
After Stow forward Matt Beech made 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 44, guard Kyle Meehan gave the Mustangs the lead for good with a three-pointer from the top of the key.
Strongsville eventually put it away with a 7-0 run to take a 56-47 lead. Meehan provided the dagger when he closed the spurt with his fourth and final three of the game.
"Maybe we thought we were pretty good after we won two games," Close said. "If we're not working our tails off -- and that means every guy, every second -- we're not going to be very good."
Meehan scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in the second half. Guard Tom Krokey also knocked down four three-pointers and finished with 16 points for the Mustangs.
The Bulldogs, who missed 21 of their first 28 shots, had three players in double figures. Beech led the way with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Jacob Williams, who started at point guard, scored 13 points. Guard Michael Zavodnik added 10 points for Stow, which had a 31-21 advantage on the glass.
The Bulldogs' usual point guard, Tyler DeVitis, did not play because of an injury he suffered during the team's 49-38 win over Hilliard Davidson Dec. 8 on the road.
"He's day to day," Close said of DeVitis. "He's a true point guard who allows Jacob to do what he can do."
Beech led Stow with 22 points against Hilliard Davidson. Williams added 14 points for the Bulldogs, who earned a 47-30 victory in the junior varsity contest.
Stow was scheduled to make its Northeast Ohio Conference River Division debut Dec. 14 with a home date against archrival Cuyahoga Falls. Results were not available at press time.
The Bulldogs are set to visit River Division foe Solon Dec. 18 before returning home to play Cleveland East Tech Dec. 22. Both varsity contests are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.