Coming off a 58-46 loss to undefeated Austintown Fitch three nights earlier, the Canfield girls basketball team needed a rebound in its next game.
That task would be a tough one, however, because Canfield's opponent would be rival Howland on the road. Although the Lady Tigers are a .500 team, anytime the two schools meet on the hardwood it's a classic. In past seasons, conference and regional supremacy has been decided when the Cardinals and Tigers tussled. Thursday's tilt felt no different than those championship matches as Canfield came home from Howland with an exciting 59-54 win.
Canfield was able to block out the game against Fitch as the team took an early 17-10 lead. That lead would remain 7 points as the teams headed into the locker room at halftime. The Tigers were able to chip away at the Cardinals' lead in the second half and took a 44-42 lead late in the third period. After flip-flopping the lead in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals hit some important free throws at the end of the game to knot the huge road victory.
Erin Risner rose above the Tigers in the fourth period scoring 8 of her game-high 20 points and Rachael Tinkey and Lynnae Whitehead each had 14 points.
One week before beating Howland, the Canfield ladies picked up another solid road win at Hubbard. The Cardinals controlled the Lady Eagles in a 67-27 triumph. It was a huge scoring night for the two top Cardinal offensive weapons. Risner hurt Hubbard with 21 points and nine rebounds and Tinkey was torrid as well scoring 20 points with seven rebounds. Those outputs allowed Canfield head coach Pat Pavlansky to sit back on the bench and breathe easily.
"It was a nice win," Pavlansky said. "We had not played a game in 12 days. It was a good game to play lots of people."
Alexandra Stanic shot well and had 8 points and seven rebounds. Kaleel and Marissa Donchess each scored 6 points with Kaleel handing out six assists. Savannah Barko had a great all-around night with 4 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three assists.
The loss to Fitch was bad news for Canfield. Mediocre shooting by the Cardinals and incredibly electrifying free throw shooting by the Lady Falcons combined to be problematic for Pavlansky's club. Fitch was able to hit 17 out of 20 charity tosses disallowing the Cardinals any chance to make up a game-long deficit.
Tinkey took in the top scoring honors for her team with 13 points, while Risner reeled in 10 points. Kaleel scored 8 points for Canfield.
Although the setback to the Falcons put an end to thoughts of Canfield (5-3 in the league) clawing its way back to the top of the All American Conference standings, upcoming battles with Niles, Poland and Struthers are no less important.
Coach Pavlansky will motivate the team to keep playing with heart the last few games of January so they can be at their best in February.