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Lady Cards go 7-0 to start season

December 19, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

It has been a fairly abnormal schedule to start the season for the Canfield girls basketball team.

Canfield's ladies have played teams from the Cleveland area as well as schools from Western Pennsylvania. Also on the slate was a match with state power West Branch that tipped off the campaign.

Apparently, it doesn't matter who the Lady Cardinals encounter on the court because that team usually just ends up on the short end of the scoreboard. In fact, all seven of Canfield's early season foes have fallen as head coach Matt Reel's Redbirds have jumped out to a red hot 7-0 start. According to Coach Reel, its what his girls do on the defensive side of the floor that has them undefeated.

"Our defense has been a major key as it has improved from the beginning of the season," Reel said. "Our girls are eager learners and practice hard every day."

That hard practice paid off handsomely when the Cardinals played Mohawk High School last Saturday in Struthers in the JBL tournament. The Mohawk kids entered the JBL equally unbeaten, but posed very little competition for the local ladies. Canfield built an insurmountable 25-8 halftime lead with little resistance from the Lady Warriors. Senior guard Serena Sammarone paced the Cardinals in scoring with 17 points. Fellow guard Grace Mangapora was right behind her backcourt mate with 16 points.

The win over the Warriors was the third one in a row the Cardinals obtained from a team from across the border. On Dec. 8, Canfield smoked Hickory 54-17 in the second game of the Rick Fragle Tip-Off Classic in Sharon. One night prior, the Cardinals put up a score that their brethren from the near championship Canfield football team would be proud of. The Canfield kids clobbered Union Area 55-7.

Mangapora mangled Hickory for 16 points. Sammarone and Gianna Flask each tallied nine points.

The strange scheduling this season has Reel scratching his head, but he is overjoyed with how well his girls have ignored their opponents and just played their excellent brand of basketball.

"(The schedule) is a different perspective," said Reel, "especially playing some of the teams from PA. It has been interesting to say the least, but we have a simple goal of getting better every day and growing closer as a team."

In between the battles with the Pennsylvania clubs, Canfield met up with Louisville at home. The Lady Leopards didn't hold up well against Canfield's stifling defense either. A 6-1 run in the opening quarter spurred the Cardinals, as they never looked back in a 59-43 blowout. Mangapora and Sammarone were up to their usual tricks scoring 28 and 14 respectively. Flask also reached double-figures with 10 points.

Canfield's journey down this strange scheduling trip will have it facing Laurel Academy and Stow next. Both of those schools are top 10 material.

"We are looking forward to the challenge of playing these two teams," said Reel on Sunday night.

Once the holiday season wraps up, Reel's team will play much more conventional clubs like Struthers, Warren Harding and Austintown Fitch. Another battle with Louisville will take place on Jan. 4. That will be a very special game for the Cardinals, as it will take place at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.



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