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Two losses in a row halt Canfield's unbeaten start

January 2, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Six straight wins to start the season had the Canfield girls basketball team sizzling as the holidays approached.

However, back-to-back setbacks last week slowed Canfield's roll. The Lady Cardinals were beaten by a pair of schools not usually found on their schedule. Laurel took the trip from Western Pennsylvania into Canfield and turned back the Cardinals 57-54 on Dec. 22. Six days later, the Canfield girls were edged on the road by Stow Munroe Falls 59-56.

Canfield head coach Matt Reel noted that his club was not satisfied when their win streak came to a halt.

"Our girls were disappointed," said Reel. "We did not execute well."

Execution wasn't a problem for the Cardinals early as they went toe to toe with the Lady Spartans to force a 15-15 tie after one period. Canfield then exploded in the second quarter and used a 16-5 run to take a 31-20 halftime lead. That lead wouldn't stretch in the second half, however, as the Spartans shook off their subpar shooting and outscored the local kids 37-23 over the final sixteen minutes.

Senior guard Gianna Flask fired home 11 points to pace the Cardinals' offensive attack in the loss. Serena Sammarone scored nine points. Her freshman little sister Summer scored eight points as did Gabby Demidovich. Grace Mangapora had a seven-point outing.

Last Friday night in Stow, the Cardinals kept pace for most of the game, but were unable to upset one of the state's annually strong teams. Stow suits up three girls who have started since they were freshmen and it showed in this important tilt. Canfield's lethal combination of Serena Sammarone and Mangapora was too much for the Lady Bulldogs to handle as they scored 25 and 20 points respectively. The only problem for Reel's bunch was that the rest of his squad only combined for 11 points. The veteran coach knew this showdown with Stow would be a difficult one and admitted to it afterward.

"We expect (Stow) to do well in the tourney," said Reel. "It was a great test for us and provided great learning opportunities."

The Cards will find out how much they learned after the New Year when the crux of conference play commences. Before the battles with the Red Tier schools begin, a pair of non-league matches with Struthers and Louisville will be played on Jan. 3 and 4. That tussle with the Lady Leopards will be extra special because it will take place at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. Canfield has already buried Louisville once this season 59-43 back on Dec. 12.

Four consecutive conference clashes follow that trip to Cleveland starting with a visit to Warren Harding on Jan. 9. By the time the Redbirds resume their quest for a conference crown, Coach Reel will like his team to get healthier and clean up some problem areas.

"We are adjusting to some injuries," said Reel. "And we want to continue to finish possessions on offense and defense."



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