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Cards unbeaten in AAC Red Tier

January 24, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Back on Dec. 8, Canfield's boys basketball team escaped from Howland with a thrilling 55-52 victory.

Since beating the Tigers that night, the Canfield kids won three more conference games to stay unbeaten in the All American Conference Red Tier. Thanks to the round robin format implemented by the AAC, these same two schools were able to square off again last Friday night in Canfield. Unfortunately for the home team, the result was not the same as it was six weeks ago. This time it was the Tigers who grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat winning 55-53 on a last second bucket.

"It was definitely disappointing to lose (on Friday night) because the team and my staff knew that we let one slip away," said Canfield head coach Todd Muckleroy on the morning after the setback. "Howland is an accomplished team and has had some good wins. We surely didn't take them lightly, but there were some things we didn't do well."

Article Photos

Photos by Cindy DeRose, Town Crier

Canfield junior Conor Crogan takes the ball down court under pressure from Howland’s Tyrig Ellis.

Some of the things that the veteran coach cited as missing from his team's arsenal last weekend was missing easy looks at the basket, not securing the basketball late in the game and poor rebounding. All three of those errors cost Canfield in the final moments of the match. Canfield's Zach Tinkey hit a 3-pointer to give the Cardinals a 53-51 lead with 2:17 left in the contest. That would turn out to be Canfield's final made shot for the night. Howland kept the Cardinals scoreless and that enabled them to creep back into a tie. Then with barely two seconds remaining, the Tigers missed a potential game-winning layup, but just like Coach Muckleroy said, his boys weren't able to grab the rebound and instead Howland did and put back in the winning shot.

"We didn't do a good job on the boards when it counted," said Muckleroy.

Aydin Hanousek scored 8 of his 10 total points in the first quarter as Canfield jumped out to an early 12-2 lead. The great start by the Cardinals meant little as the game progressed however.

"We shot the ball well early, but we knew those shots wouldn't fall that easy the entire game," Muckleroy said.

Ian McGraw had 18 points to pace the Cardinals. Tinkey was terrific with 16 points.

Prior to playing Howland, the Cardinals captured a couple of comfortable triumphs over Youngstown East and New Philadelphia. Canfield eliminated East 63-48 on Jan. 9 then beat New Philly 58-40 a week later. The way his kids performed in those two tilts made Muckleroy even more disappointed with the outcome against the Tigers.

"We showed great energy and toughness at both the defensive and offensive sides of the court," he said. "We needed that toughness against Howland."

The Redbirds will try to regain their mojo in conference clashes with Austintown Fitch, Warren Harding and East once again. Canfield already clobbered the Falcons by 20 points back on Dec. 16 in Austintown so the visitors will be looking to gain revenge this Friday night.

"My team is going to have to fight the urge to think that it is going to be an easy game against Fitch," Muckleroy said. "Fitch is playing very well and wants to avoid being swept in conference play by the same team."

Bad weather postponed the previously scheduled rumble with the Raiders so the teams will tangle twice in one week starting this Saturday in Warren. The rematch with the Golden Bears will be Feb. 6 in Youngstown. If Canfield wants to reestablish the divisional dominance it showed before losing to Howland, it must eliminate some costly mistakes.

"We will need to commit to efficient possessions at the offensive end while adhering to our defensive philosophy of guarding the paint, attacking the glass and gathering first shot misses," Muckleroy said.



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