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Cards take the Tiger by the tail in 53-49 win

January 18, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

On Dec. 6, Canfield's girls basketball team beat Howland on the road to start a string of nine wins out of ten games.

Those winning ways came full circle last Saturday (Jan. 13) in Canfield when the Lady Cardinals tamed the Lady Tigers again 53-49. The Cardinals have now won four games in a row, ten out of their past eleven and are an impressive 7-0 inside the All American Conference Red Tier. The first place Cards will try to stay atop their lofty perch with games against Austintown Fitch, Boardman, Warren Harding and Youngstown East before the end of January.

"The wins have helped our team's confidence," wrote Canfield head coach Matt Reel a few days ago.

Article Photos

Photos by Cindy DeRose, Town Crier

Canfield junior Serena Sammarone charges to the hoop as Howland senior Ka’Rina Mallory attempts to defend. The Lady Cards went on to win the match 53-49 on their senior night.

It took a lot of that confidence and a pair of overtimes for Canfield to handle Howland six weeks ago. Round two against the Tigers was a nail biter as well. Both of the Tigers' losses in the league have come at the hands of the Cardinals.

Howland held its own against the league unbeaten Cardinals for most of the second game, but great defense by the home team in the final three minutes kept the Tigers at bay. The visitors made just a pair of field goals down the stretch as Canfield captured the victory. The Cardinals outscored the Tigers 17-9 in the fourth period, highlighted by an 8 for 13 performance from the foul line. Grace Mangapora poured it on Howland scoring 19 points to go along with eight rebounds. Serena Sammarone scored 14 points, had eight rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots. Jill Baker also scored 14 points, including some big free tosses to salt the game away. After coming away with the slim margin win, Reel gave kudos to his team's opponent.

"(Howland) had some really good pressure on us tonight," Reel said. "We did some things out of character and it took us a while to settle down."

Reel's girls settled things easily in three previous triumphs over Hubbard, Lakeview and Youngstown East. The Cardinals cruised in 73-23, 63-16 and 64-21 wins respectively. The theme in all of those triumphs was more outstanding defense as Canfield's defenders only allowed an average of 20 points per game.

Sammarone scored 17 to lead Canfield's charge over Lakeview. Baker brought home 13 points from the encounter with East. Mangapora scored 11 points in that same game.

A battle with mighty 11-1 Orrville was played prior to Canfield's quartet of upcoming conference clashes. That match took place on Martin Luther King Day in the 2018 Smithie Classic in Smithville, Ohio. It was the fourth of five games played in the Classic last Monday.

The rematches with the Lady Falcons and Lady Spartans will be tough because both of those squads will be set on gaining revenge from earlier defeats. Canfield upended the Falcons 62-52 on Dec. 13, and then clobbered the Spartans 63-28 three days later. Harding and East have also fallen victim to the colossal Cardinals this season so those two schools should also be frothing to replay the Redbirds.

"We are now going through the league a second time so we are expecting very close games," Reel said.

Although his girls have played nearly perfect basketball inside the Red Tier this year, Coach Reel doesn't want to see them lose their edge.

"We are focusing on improving a little bit every day at practice and at games," he said. "We want our girls to focus on the process of improvement and not focus on the results."



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