There is no better way for a basketball team to celebrate a lengthy off period than to capture then savor a signature victory.
That victory for Canfield's girls came on Dec. 23 when it hosted All American Conference newcomer Austintown Fitch. The Lady Falcons came to Canfield winners of their first five games and was ready to showcase themselves to the rest of their new league sisters against one of the perennial conference championship contenders. The Lady Cardinals, and specifically Sabrina Mangapora, had other ideas. Mangapora poured in 18 of her game-high 22 points in the second half to spearhead Canfield to an impressive 68-53 triumph. The 6-1 junior also secured seven rebounds and dished out four assists. With almost two weeks between the game against Fitch and Canfield's next contest on Jan. 4 at West Branch, head coach Pat Pavlansky could not be more thrilled with how his squad's holiday vacation started.
"I am so proud of the total team effort," exclaimed Pavlansky. "The girls played with a common purpose and it is humbling to be able to coach such an unselfish team."
That unselfishness showed in the first period when various Cardinals got into the scorebook early as Canfield took control with a 19-10 lead. Canfield's lead continued due to some hot shooting on the early winter night. Mangapora and her mates made 26 out of 45 shots for the game and even hit 12 of 18 free throws. Also hitting double-digits in scoring were Abby Baker who had 16 points and Rachel Tinkey who turned in a 12-point night. Sarah Vrabel scored eight points to go along with five rebounds and seven assists. Tinkey also took down seven rebounds as Canfield earned a 27-23 rebounding advantage. The Cardinals also had fewer turnovers than their opponent allowing them some peace of mind as they headed into 2012.
"It is nice to take a few days off," said coach Pavlansky. "We are getting better and are looking forward to playing (after the break)."
When that break ends the Cardinals will travel to West Branch then host Hubbard before having a huge showdown at conference archenemy Poland on Jan. 12. By that time the 4-3 Canfield kids should be even a more confident group than the one that easily erased a good Fitch bunch.
"We are working on all aspects of our game," Pavlansky announced a couple days before the battle with West Branch. "We are looking forward to getting even better."