Canfield's boys basketball team has been shooting the ball a little better as of late enabling it to shake a midseason slump and pick up some important victories.
The Canfield kids were supposed to play a game on Jan. 20 against Beaver Local, but the only person raining objects from the sky that day was Mother Nature as she laid over half a foot of snow on the area forcing the cancellation of that contest. So while the almighty matriarch was doing her thing, fans of the Cardinals were left watching snowflakes fall instead of three-pointers. That was disappointing to Canfield head coach Todd Muckleroy who, despite a loss to state-ranked Alliance on Jan. 17, thought his team was building some momentum.
"Beating Hubbard then Poland (on Jan. 6 and 13 respectively) were big wins," said the coach. "The Poland win should count as two or three wins because it was such a big game. We hated to have to wait (to play Beaver Local)."
As luck would have it Muckleroy and his men did not need to wait too long to get the ball bouncing with Beaver. The two schools made up its game one-day after the postponement much to the delight of Muckleroy.
"It's hard to find an open date at this late stage of the season," he said on the morning of the makeup match. "It is a relief to get to play this game Saturday."
If the final score was any indication, then that game was a huge relief for the Cardinals. Canfield clobbered Beaver Local 75-55 to even their record in the All American Red Tier. Canfield had little trouble with its outmanned opponent leading from the outset. Holding a nine-point lead after three quarters, the Cardinals broke the Beavers for good with a 28-17 fourth period. Matt Yourstowsky led the way over Local with 25 points. Will Yobi scored 18 points and Kyle Brown bested Beaver with 10 points. Despite downing their league foe by a large margin, coach Muckleroy still applauded his team's adversary for going the distance.
"Beaver Local is a scrappy bunch," Muckleroy announced after the game. "Now we have gained some of that momentum back that we lost in the Alliance game."
As much as Canfield enjoyed its win last Saturday it was equally upset about that loss at Alliance a few nights earlier. The Aviators, ranked third in Division III, showed off their tremendous talent early taking a 25-12 lead over the local kids after one period. Canfield displayed some gumption by creeping back into contention with a 20-17 second quarter to pull to within 10 points at halftime. After the intermission, however, the Aviators really took off outscoring the Cardinals 47-23 leaving coach Muckleroy very impressed.
"(Alliance) is a great team," said Muckleroy truthfully. "We knew we would have to pick up our game against them. They forced us to play catch-up in the second half which is exactly what they wanted."
Playing a highly thought of non conference outfit like Alliance in the middle of a grueling All American Conference schedule is something most people would think Muckleroy and his kids would certainly not want. Yet the second year coach disagrees with that assessment.
"(Teams like Alliance) are the types of teams you see night in and night out in March," said Muckleroy. "Playing a team like that prepares us. We also play our tournament games (in Alliance) so we can get used to the court."
Three Cardinals who found some sweet spots on Alliance's home floor and ended the night with double-digits in points were Yourstowsky who scored 14 points, Kaymaun Alexander who scored 12 and Brown who ended up with 11.
With three wins in their last four games, the Cardinals made another attempt at getting another non-conference win against Cardinal Mooney on January 24. Coach Muckleroy had that match with Mooney circled on the schedule since losing in the Cardinals' home gym on Jan. 3.
"We will be looking to vindicate that earlier loss to Mooney," Muckleroy announced before the Tuesday tilt.
This Friday, Canfield climbs the bus and heads to Howland to get back into Red Tier action. The coach hopes the recent upswing in his team's play helps when they encounter the tough Tigers.
"We are playing at a higher level," he said. "We would like it to continue in Howland."