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Inconsistent season continues for Canfield boys

February 5, 2020
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

To say that this season has been a roller coaster ride for the Canfield boys basketball team would be an understatement.

A disappointing 59-48 loss to Massillon on the road last Friday night was preceded by a much-needed 71-66 win over conference rival Austintown Fitch three nights earlier. That continued a string of games that saw the Canfield kids alternate wins and losses dating back to January 11. For the season, Canfield has a 9-8 record and is two games below breakeven in the All American Conference.

Massillon had won six out of seven home game this season so losing down there wasn't much of an embarrassment for head coach Todd Muckleroy's men. The Tigers also sport an impressive 12-4 overall record. Still, the Cardinals fought hard in the first half and held a slim 20-19 lead as the seconds ticked away before halftime. An enormous three-pointer at the buzzer before intermission by Massillon's Luke Sabo stole away all of Canfield's early game momentum. The air wasn't only taken out of the Cardinals' gut, but it was also taken out of the basketball by the Tigers. Massillon played keep away from Canfield in the second half and held onto the ball long before putting up a shot. Although the contest remained close, with the home team never leading by more than eight points, the Cardinals couldn't possess the pumpkin enough to tie things up. Senior guard Brayden Beck did score on a layup with about six minutes left in the game to pull the Cardinals to within three points. The local guys would never get any closer unfortunately. A conventional 3-pointer by Sabo and a Canfield technical foul would allow the Tigers to immediately move their lead back up to eight points. That scoring binge began a 12-1 run down the stretch by Massillon which made the final score look worse than it really was for Muckleroy's group.

It was raining 3-pointers earlier in the week when the Cardinals hosted their nemesis from Austintown. Canfield connected on 22 of 47 field goals with eight of those coming from long distance as the home squad subdued the visitors 71-66. Six-foot-four senior Joe Bruno buried four of those three's and finished with 18 points. Junior guard Trey Dye had two treys of his own and led the team with 24 points. All six of sophomore Zane Muckleroy's points came from beyond the arc. Beck and junior forward Chase Lowry also scored six points.

That win over the Falcons came on the heels of a league loss at home to Warren Harding, so it was a necessary one if the Cardinals wanted to keep any semblance of a chance at taking home a Red Tier title. They also lost to Boardman on January 17 which has put them in quite the conference hole. Of course, every school has been slammed by the Spartans this season as the Boardman bunch is sitting comfortably atop of the AAC with an unblemished record. The only way the Cardinals can catch the Spartans is if Boardman loses the rest of its league contests and Canfield runs the table. Muckleroy's group got their second crack at knocking off the Spartans this past Tuesday in Canfield. If they kept this trend of alternating wins and losses going, then an upset win would've been in the cards. A trip to Trumbull County to take on Howland takes place this Friday night. Canfield has already tamed the Tigers by a 74-48 count back on Jan. 21. It'll take more offensive performances like that if this Canfield club wants to get back near Boardman. More realistically, the focus for the Cardinals the remainder of this regular season is to find some consistency as they approach the upcoming Division II state tournament.



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