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Cardinal guys delivered a momentum breaker

January 23, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Canfield's boys basketball team thought it had built some momentum when they won back-to-back games over a four day stretch in January.

The joy felt from those victories over Austintown Fitch and Ashtabula Lakeside were short lived, however, as the Canfield kids were beaten by Boardman last Friday night. Making that loss even more dejecting was that it happened on the Cardinals' home floor. That's a place where the Spartans haven't won in their past 10 tries. A huge difference in that setback was unforced errors by the Cardinals.

"We had a little confidence heading into the Boardman game because we were coming off two straight wins, but turnovers hurt us in the beginning of the game," said Canfield head coach Todd Muckleroy. "When you do that against a good team like Boardman you give them a lot of credit. It is very evident that Boardman is definitely the front runner in this league."

Indeed, the Spartans are undefeated in the All American Conference's Red Tier while the Cardinals are 2-2. The 18 turnovers by Muckleroy's club enabled Boardman to outscore Canfield 20-10 in the second period. That turned a one-point Spartan lead into an eleven-point advantage at intermission. The visitors then came out and squashed any hopes of a Canfield comeback with a 22-13 third quarter run. Six-foot-four junior forward Joe Bruno hit two of Canfield's three 3-pointers and finished the game with 12 points.

A 26-9 run by the Cardinals in the second quarter against Lakeside spurred the home team's 62-56 win on January 15. Three Canfield shooters topped ten points led by senior forward Aydin Hanousek who tallied 19. Conor Crogan and Kyle Gamble both scored 14 points to aid the winning effort.

Hanousek was back at it a few nights earlier when he netted a game-high 23 points in Canfield's comfortable 58-46 win over Austintown Fitch. Gamble garnered 15 points. The two wins is a row were needed to right Canfield's season, but they didn't come easily.

"In the two wins against Lakeside and Fitch they were close throughout the entire 32 minutes," said Muckleroy. "It's a credit to the entire league that it's fairly even. One of the positives to pull out of both of those wins is that we executed in stretches and made some winning plays to seal those victories."

Still, the stink of the setback to the Spartans lingers in the coach's mind.

"There is no doubt that our players are frustrated," Muckleroy said. "At this moment in time our team has to start placing an emphasis on what's going on with our family and stay together in this process."

Canfield's process will proceed with four consecutive road tilts. That unenviable task began this past Tuesday at Howland and continues at Warren Harding, Fitch and Lakeside. Howland is the final AAC team that the Cardinals haven't encountered yet. The rest of the Red Tier slate will be rematches starting with the revenge match with the Warren kids on Jan. 25. The Raiders cleared the Cardinals 53-48 a couple weeks ago. Of course, Muckleroy isn't looking for redemption over the next few weeks. He's hoping his group uses these games as a way to ready themselves for the grand prize in March.

"We want to get back on a tiny winning streak, but we have a lot more to play for at this point," said the coach. "We want to make sure we are playing our best basketball very soon in order to finish out this regular season strong heading into tournament play."

 
 

 

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