Back-to-back wins against rival Boardman were part of an eight-game winning streak that has the Canfield girls basketball team soaring into the second half of the season.
Canfield clobbered the Lady Spartans 76-28 in a game played on Dec. 29. Things were a lot tighter after the New Year when the two schools saw each other again in Boardman. A Sabrina Mangapora free throw with less than one second to play pushed Canfield away from a demoralizing upset. The Lady Cardinals skipped by the Spartans, 41-40. Although Canfield head coach Pat Pavlansky was much more pleased with the way his ladies beat down Boardman in the first meeting, he welcomed the nail-biting battle on Jan. 5.
"It's always good to be challenged," said the coach. "Boardman played great and we played well enough to win. We will learn a ton from this game."
Hopefully, one of those lessons will be on how to shoot the ball better. Canfield uncharacteristically hit on only 14 of 40 shots from the field in Boardman and was even outrebounded, 32-16.
"We were fortunate to win with those stats," said Pavlansky honestly.
The last second charity toss enabled Mangapora to finish the game with 19 points. Abby Baker was second high leading scorer with 11 points. Allison Pavlansky put in nine points to go along with five assists and three rebounds.
In between the two beatings of Boardman, the 10-1 Cardinals gained satisfaction by polishing off arch nemesis Poland, 56-18 on Jan. 3 at home. Although the Lady Bulldogs lost two of their previous three games before their trip to Canfield, they were riding high with a 9-2 record. That may have been impressive to most folks, but not to the mighty Cardinals who thumbed their beaks at the Bulldogs with a tremendous defensive performance. Poland was held to just 8-42 shooting from the field due to the hawking Cardinals' "D" and attempted just two free throws all ballgame.
"We were able to play aggressively without fouling," said coach Pavlansky in amazement. "We played well defensively and it showed."
Pavlansky's people also played well offensively. Mangapora pummeled Poland with 20 points and seven rebounds. Kayla Barko buried the Bulldogs with 12 points and eleven boards. Abby Baker helped bounce the Bulldogs with seven points. Rachel Tinkey did terrific all around with five points, six boards, four steals and three assists. Erin Risner retrieved three rebounds to go along with four points.
The Cardinals will commence a stretch of three games in seven days with a home game against Beaver Local on Jan. 10. Two days later Youngstown East pays a visit to Canfield. On Jan. 17, the Cardinals travel to Howland to take on the struggling Lady Tigers. Usually, when those two schools have a showdown in the middle of January the All American American Tier title is on the line. This year, however, Howland is just a tick over .500 in both the league and overall. Canfield took out the Tigers by 25 points a month ago, but that doesn't mean the ferocity of this upcoming game will be any lighter. Coach Pav would love for his team to carry over its defensive outputs of the past couple games into all of its pending matchups.
"We are trying to bring that same level of intensity and focus to each practice and each game," he said.