After stumbling in recent outings, the Canfield boys basketball team was certainly in need of a nice win.
That win did indeed come for the Cardinals at Hubbard on Jan. 6 albeit in less-than-handsome fashion. Canfield outscored the Eagles 30-21 in the second half to break open a close game and come away with a 49-39 triumph. In the eyes of second year, Canfield head coach Todd Muckleroy the win was not aesthetically pleasing, but it helped stop a small losing streak making it look like the Mona Lisa.
"It was ugly," said Muckleroy honestly a day after the win. "It was not a very exciting game, but the win definitely helped. As long as we can keep games close we can win those games."
Perhaps the game at Hubbard was a bit too close early on as neither team did much to establish dominance in quarters one or two. So-so shooting by both clubs amounted to a 19-18 Canfield lead at halftime. Better offense after intermission enabled the Cardinals to come away with a double-digit victory. Will Yobi led Canfield in scoring with 14 points. Matt Yourstowsky and Kyle Brown each came home from Hubbard with 12 points. Having three upperclassmen up on top of the scoring list like Canfield had last week is vitally important to the success of this inexperienced outfit.
"Having three seniors in doubles is the kind of production we are looking for," said Muckleroy. "Those seniors stepped up (against Hubbard). Not only in scoring, but by taking care of the ball. I pull hard for our seniors to do well."
Coach Muckleroy was also pulling for his club to get out of its post-holiday funk. The Cardinals were clobbered by another Cardinal bunch when they lost 52-38 at Mooney on Jan. 3. The "other" Cardinals entered that tilt last Tuesday with only one win, but created havoc by going on a 10-0 run at the beginning and eventually scoring 16 of the game's first 21 points. Even though Canfield nipped Mooney 11-10 in the second period it still trailed 26-16 at halftime. After another close third quarter, Mooney made the game a blowout with an 18-13 fourth period advantage.
Yourstowsky was the only Cardinal above ten points with 18 including four three-pointers. Brown and Conner Kesner both brought home eight points. Coach Muckleroy traced his troop's slow start on the Southside to a game his team played before the holiday interruption.
"We had a tough game against Howland before the break and it was tough for us to bounce back," explained Muckleroy. "We came out lethargic against Mooney and they jumped on us early and we couldn't recover."
One of the reasons why the holiday respite was anything but relaxing for the Cardinals is because it broke up what the kids were used to for two months.
"As coaches we hate the holiday break," chuckled Muckleroy. "It gets everyone out of their routines. It messes up our schedule."
Speaking of schedules, Canfield's is bare all week until Jan. 13. When the 4-6 Cardinals carry themselves back onto the court this Friday it will be to challenge archenemy Poland. If there was ever a game suited for Friday the 13th it is this showdown between the Cardinals and the hated Bulldogs. The only thing that would top off this night is if Jason Voorhees himself was on hand for the ceremonial jump ball.
"No need to get the kids ready for this one," said Muckleroy sounding if he was ready to lace up the Nikes as well. "I haven't been around for many of these, but I know it is a great rivalry."
Poland is 7-3 overall and ahead of Canfield in the All American Red Tier standings. The Bulldogs bullied Beaver Local last week 70-40 and is led on the hardwood, as they were on the gridiron, by sensational senior Colin Reardon.
"Reardon is a great player and he makes everyone around him better players," said a complimentary Muckleroy.
The coach hopes his team is better because it has a week off to prepare for the party with Poland and has a win to savor no matter how unsightly it was.
"Without a Tuesday game this week we will be able to get better mentally and physically," Muckleroy announced. "The win over Hubbard was important for us to build some momentum. I think the team that holds their composure and doesn't let their emotions take over has the best chance to win this game."