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Cards take a fall to Massillon Washington

December 26, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Three losses in four games had the Canfield boys basketball team reeling as they headed into the Christmas break.

The Canfield boys had a thrilling win over Maple Heights on Dec. 18, but a crushing 78-67 home loss to Massillon Washington last Saturday night was another in a string of lackluster performances lately. Canfield head coach Todd Muckleroy admitted after the misstep against Massillon that his boys aren't exactly in super festive holiday moods.

"If you ask my players they probably wouldn't be too happy (with the team's record)," wrote Muckleroy in a recent email. "In reference to the Maple Heights game our grit and perseverance won that game. It was an interesting game."

What made that win over the Mustangs "interesting," as Coach Muckleroy phrased it, was the way the visitors closed the gap after trailing 36-24 after three quarters. Maple Heights forced Canfield into 15 turnovers in the second half alone to help overcome its huge deficit and force the Cardinals to hang on for the win.

"It appeared we were going to cruise to a relatively easy victory," said Muckleroy. "Maple Heights just wouldn't go away. It wasn't an easy victory."

Six-foot-four junior forward Joe Bruno made sure the Mustangs would be turned away scoring 12 points. Seniors Kyle Gamble and Connor Crogan went for nine and five points respectively.

Muckleroy's men needed a bounce back victory over Maple Heights because they gave up 155 points combined in a pair of losses to Butler and New Philadelphia a week earlier.

It wasn't technically the Butler that did it to Canfield in The Clash at New Castle Classic on December 15, but actually it was Butler's Ethan Morton. The six foot five sharpshooter hit 12 field goals and 24 free throws en route to a school record 48 points. The 7-1 Golden Tornado topped the Cardinals 80-69.

New Philly conquered Canfield 75-65 at home on Dec. 11. The visitors stayed close to their hosts trailing just 15-14 after one period, but super shooting by the Quakers in the second quarter stretched their lead to 37-30 at intermission. A 16-10 run by the home team in the third period gave it a nearly insurmountable 53-40 lead heading into the final frame. Although four Cardinals hit for double figures in scoring, three Canfield players were forced from the game due to fouling out.

Playing such stalwart teams before the beginning of the All American Conference schedule in January is something that was well calculated by Canfield's coaching staff. Coach Muckleroy insisted that these games, some against unfamiliar foes, would make a difference in a few weeks.

"We have been telling our players that our schedule will begin to pay dividends when we get to league play," Muckleroy said. "Our league will not be easy, but we have played some close games and we are battle tested. Also because we are playing some different teams it has forced our team to adapt and adjust during our contests."

Before batting Warren Harding on Jan. 8 to tipoff the Red Tier, Canfield will meet Kenston in the first game of the Hudson Holiday Tournament on Dec. 27. The winner of that match will meet the winner of the Streetsboro/Hudson game on Friday night. Battling the Bombers just adds to Canfield's serious slate of non-league tests.

"(Kenston) will be unique in their own right as they are disciplined and athletic," Muckleroy said. "It will be a challenging task to win on the first night and then have to play the winner of Streetsboro and Hudson. Our season battle cry is "compete hard" on any given night. Our boys have accepted the challenge."



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