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Win over archrival much needed for Canfield boys

January 22, 2020
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

An impressive 2-point win over nemesis Poland was sandwiched between two conference losses for the Canfield boys basketball team.

That 35-33 triumph over the Bulldogs on January 11 broke a three game losing skid for the Canfield kids that stretched back to last calendar year. Befitting for a rivalry that dates back decades, this showdown between the Bulldogs and Cardinals was a well-played, nip and tuck affair. It was tied at 10 apiece after one period then Canfield took a slim 15-14 lead at halftime. After Poland edged the Cardinals 8-7 in the third quarter the game entered the fourth quarter tied at 22. Canfield was able to squeak out a 13-11 fourth frame to capture the narrow triumph. Great shooting wasn't really on display in Canfield on this evening, but the home team was able to connect on a few more shots than its guests. Canfield was 12 for 29 from the field and 5 for 14 from 3-point range. Senior guard Joe Bruno paced the Cardinals with 13 points, including three of his team's five triples. Junior Trey Dye scored nine points in the victory. Although this game was a slugfest for sure, Canfield's head coach was relieved it ended up on his squad's side.

"It was a well-needed win for us," said Todd Muckleroy. "My guys are working hard, and I will never fault their efforts."

The only ones to blame for the loss to Boardman last Friday were the Spartans themselves. The unbeaten and league-leading Boardman boys scored 39 points in the first half alone en route to an easy 68-50 win. Muckleroy's group only scored 7 points in the first period as they fell way behind. From that point they never were able to find their footing.

"When you get down you hope to hit a field goal to bridge that gap," said the coach. "(Boardman) is a good team, they're not going to relinquish that lead."

Senior shooter Brent Herrmann did all he could to help his club comeback hitting big back-to-back buckets in the third quarter as the Cardinals pulled closer. He would finish the contest with 14 points. Senior point guard Jake Kowal led Canfield in scoring with 17 points. Dye hit a couple three's to end with nine points. Senior Brayden Beck brought back 6 points from Boardman. Once again Muckleroy never faulted his boys for how they hustled or scrapped in this loss.

"Our pressure worked good in spots," he said. "Sometimes the scoreboard isn't a good indicator of the things we did."

Sadly, the scoreboard didn't read well for the Cardinals again at Fitch on Jan. 10. The visitors did well in the opening half leading 32-27 at halftime, but then the Falcons used a little different defensive strategy after intermission to hold Canfield to just 19 second half points.

"(Fitch) played zone and we don't have a lot of guys who can shoot it from outside," said Muckleroy. "That zone kind of took us out of our rhythm."

Canfield did cut the lead down to 50-44 midway in the final period, but a 12-7 run down the stretch by the home team stemmed the tide. Bruno had 14 points overall for the Cardinals with nine of those happening in the first quarter when his squad started strongly.

A 7-6 record at this point of the campaign isn't too bad, but an 0-3 record inside the All American Conference has buried the Cards into a deep hole. Making that standing even harder to swallow is that both Boardman and Warren Harding are still unblemished in the AAC. Canfield will get another chance at knocking the Spartans off their throne on Feb. 4. A rematch with the Warren kids comes on Jan. 24 in Canfield. The Raiders ripped the local gang 68-59 earlier this month. If Canfield is to create any upset victories, its coach believes it'll happen because his boys have become better at putting the ball in the basket.

"We are learning what it takes to win games on the offensive end," Muckleroy said. "We are going to need to become more efficient in how we score the ball."



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