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Lady Cardinals lose to number one Aurora in district semifinal

February 27, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

A date in the district championship was on the line this past Monday night in Ravenna when the fifth seeded Canfield girls basketball team took on top seeded Aurora.

Before that semifinal showdown commenced, Canfield head coach Matt Reel was cognizant of just how dangerous the 22-1 Aurora outfit can be. He knew that anything less than a Herculean effort by his bunch would result in disaster.

"(Aurora) is very sound offensively and defensively," said Reel a couple nights before this playoff battle. "They have three players that will play in college. We will have to play well to beat them."

Unfortunately for Canfield's coach and Cardinal Nation, Aurora proved why it is the highest ranked school in the Ravenna district when it dismantled Canfield 57-39 in the district semis. The final score looked very lopsided and, for the most part it was accurate, but the Canfield clan didn't bow out of the tournament without putting up a fight.

"We were down 17 and cut it to 9 in the fourth (quarter) which showed (the girls') character," Reel said shortly after the setback. "We just lost to a better team tonight."

Canfield clawed its way into the grudge match with the Lady Greenmen by cutting down Kenston on the road 61-58 in the sectional championship. Both schools were evenly matched in talent and it showed as the game unfolded. Although the Lady Bombers bounced out to a 20-17 first quarter lead, Canfield's kids came back to take the second stanza and tie the game heading into intermission. The third quarter once again belonged to the hosts as Kenston corralled a 51-48 lead. A huge fourth period defensively for the Cardinals kept Kenston to just seven points as the local ladies secured the sectional crown.

"We came back from a 10-0 deficit at the start and several other deficits throughout," Reel said. "We executed our defense and offense in the fourth quarter at a high level."

Serena Sammarone score 23 points to pace the Cardinals. Grace Mangapora hit half of Canfield's six three-pointers to help herself put up 21 points. Gabby Demidovich had a couple of triples en route to nine points.

Despite falling short of a shot at a district title, Coach Reel recognized how great his team's effort was in recovering from some late season adversity.

"Our girls kept believing even when we lost our last three regular season games," said Reel. "We did not play poorly in those games we just did not play well enough against three very good teams."

It is expected that the Cardinals should play well again next winter since it has a good nucleus of girls returning. The loss of the leading scorer Sammarone as well as seniors Gianna Flask and Mia Cavavec will certainly be tough to overcome, but having Mangapora and Demidovich stepping into senior roles should ease that burden. Junior guard Aiden Orlovsky will join that duo in the senior ranks. Sophomore Marissa Ieraci scored 5 points against Kenston and has gotten valuable floor time this year. Freshman Summer Sammarone also got her feet wet and is ready to carry on the family name next season as a sophomore. The anticipated advancement of a few other younger Redbird players should also keep Reel's club fighting for a district crown in 2020. Even though Canfield's future still remains bright, its coach didn't hesitate to take one last opportunity to pay homage to his youngsters after losing to Aurora.

"I told them I appreciated their effort all season," Reel said.



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