The Lady Cardinals' 46-26 annihilation of Niles Saturday saved Canfield from entering the Division I state trounament with a three-game losing streak.
The game in Niles closed a brutal stretch for the Cardinals that saw the ladies play five games in eight days. The 3-2 record Canfield accumulated over that span may not have been remarkable, but considering the teams they were facing and the young lineup head coach Pat Pavlansky has been playing, it seemed better.
"Five games in eight days are tough," Pavlansky said. "We are 14-8 on the year starting all underclassmen."
The dumping of the Red Dragons was preceded by back-to-back losses to teams Ravenna and Lakeview.
The Cardinals may have lost 65-55 to Ravenna on Valentine's Day, but they held a two-point lead at halftime and a sizeable six-point advantage after three periods. With 16 wins, the Lady Ravens outscored the Cardinals 28-12 in the final frame to snatch victory from Canfield's clutches. The Cardinals' Rachael Tinkey had an amazing game, hitting eight 3-pointers en route to a game-high 38 points.
Tinkey was on top of her game against Lakeview too, but once again Canfield fell 54-53. The Cardinals kept an 11-point lead at halftime then lost control to Lakeview in the third quarter. The Lady Bulldogs went on an 18-4 run, forcing Canfield into 11 turnovers. That problematic period enabled the Bulldogs to be behind by only two points with seconds remaining. Down 53-51, Lakeview's Rachelle Calvin nailed a clutch 3-pointer at the buzzer to give her team the exciting victory.
"We played a terrible, terrible quarter," Coach Pavlansky said.
Ashley Kaleel and Jamie Giambattista each had 10 points for Canfield in the defeat.
Canfield's players also spread the wealth in their two wins over Union and Warren Harding. Erin Risner reeled in a game-leading 29 points--with 11 of those in the first quarter of the 65-43 blasting of the Golden Eagles on Feb. 8. Tinkey tallied 11 points.
In the 49-27 hammering of Harding a couple days later, Kaleel capped a hot first quarter with two 3-pointers and 10 points. Tinkey scored 11 points, Risner had 10 points and Giambattista gathered nine.
"We need that," Pavlansky said. "We know Rachel will get her points, but we need other people to score too."
Scoring will become tougher starting tonight in the tournament. Canfield will travel to Austintown to take on 21-1 Fitch for the sectional title. This will be the third time these two rivals will meet this year with the fifth-seeded Falcons up 2-0. A third loss to the Falcons will unfortunately put an end to the season for these Canfield girls.