That is exactly what happened to the Canfield boys in their district tournament contest against Canton Timken in Canton on March 4. The Cardinals clanked most of their shots finishing with a 23 percent shooting percentage. Canfield was also the victim of some suffocating defense by the second seeded Trojans. That combination of bad shooting and big stops by the opponent resulted in a 55-27 tournament killing defeat for the Cardinals. Canfield bowed out of the playoffs with an 8-14 season record.
In the first half it appeared that the local kids had an opportunity to spring an upset on the 19-2 Trojans. Timken took a 13-6 lead after one period, but Canfield did not look to be intimidated as it battled back in quarter number two. The Trojans only edged the Cardinals by one point over the second eight minutes to hold a 25-17 advantage at intermission. Then all heck broke loose for the Cardinals in the second half. Canfield was outscored 30-10 in quarters three and four to be sent packing for the spring. Only five Cardinals were able to crack the scorebook led by Dan Campolito and Jake Ferrier who both had a pedestrian eight points. Unfortunately, that total made up more than half of the team’s total output for the night.
“We held our own in the first half,” said a disappointed Canfield head coach Todd Muckleroy this past weekend. “(Timken) started to run more in the second half. They are a great team. They are tall and athletic and we knew we couldn’t run with them.”
Running off the court in Canton after the loss were a group of seven sensational seniors who played their final games as Cardinals. Although their season ended solemnly, coach Muckleroy preached to them that they had nothing to hang their heads over.
“The kids are upset the season is over,” said the coach. “I told them they should be proud of how they ended the season. We won seven out of nine games. We beat Howland, Mooney and Massillon. They should appreciate all of the little things they did (this year).”
While the seniors were appreciating their accomplishments, Cardinal Nation was appreciating the way that septet was playing every game. Canfield will lose leading scorer Danny Campolito, P.J. Stickle, Ryan Abraham, Jared Bettura, Tyler Mettille, Boo Timko and Jake Ferrier. Each one of those kids exemplified great skills both on and off the court for Canfield over the past four years.
“Six of the seven seniors played a lot of minutes for us,” stated Muckleroy. “We will miss Campolito for his scoring. Stickle and Mettille did so much for us this year. I wish Ferrier had one more year because he was coming into his own this year.”
Canfield was able to at least send the seniors out with one playoff victory this season. The Cardinals climbed by Massillon Washington 49-44 in the district opener on March 1. In a reversal of roles from last Friday night’s game, it was Canfield’s opponent who this time had trouble connecting on its shots.
Although the Tigers hit 45 perecnt from the field, they could only muster four out of 17 three-point attempts. Those atrocities from behind the arc enabled Canfield to turn a near even game at halftime into a 30-24 advantage in the second half. While Massillon was mangling its three-point tries, the Cardinals hit seven out of 14 triples led by Campolito’s three. Canfield also hit a much more respectable 49 percent from the floor compared to that terrible 23 percent in round two. The win last Tuesday also gave Canfield a bit of revenge for its loss to the Tigers in mid-December and broke new ground for Canfield basketball.
“This team is the first Canfield team to ever win a Division I basketball tournament game,” crowed Muckleroy.
In order for the Cardinals to keep collecting Division I victories in the future, they will have to work hard this offseason. Thankfully, Muckleroy believes he has the right mix of young players to do that led by next season’s seniors Jordan Italiano, Matt Yourstowsky and Will Yobi.
“I am confident in the kids we have coming back.” Muckleroy mentioned. “I didn’t have a full summer with the kids last year so we will have some time to work on things this summer. I want the kids to continue to develop their skills and get the younger (sophomores and junior varsity) kids in the gym early.”
That hard work is not just expected of the Canfield players either. Coach Muckleroy insists he learned a bunch in his first season as Canfield bench boss and hopes to expand his abilities in year two.
“It took me a little longer to mesh the team than I thought it would,” explained Muckleroy honestly. “Once we got to the midway point we started playing better. I want to build on that next season.”
Photos by Cindy DeRose, Town Crier correspondent
Canfield senior Jake Ferrier keeps possession as a Massillon players try to defend in Division I tournament action on March 1. Canfield beat Massillon 49-44 to move on. They bowed out of the tournament with a 55-27 loss Canton Timken on Friday.