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Canfield girls to visit Kenston in Division I tournament

February 13, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

A crippling loss to rival Austintown Fitch has closed any slim hopes the Canfield girls basketball team had of capturing another All American Conference championship.

With just a pair of road games remaining on the regular season schedule, the Lady Cardinals will now focus on getting prepared for the state playoffs. Canfield has been awarded the number 5 seed in the Ravenna District of the Division I tournament. On February 21, it will go on the road to collide with fourth seeded Kenston. Before that battle with the 14-7 Lady Bombers, Coach Matt Reel will expect his squad to improve in two important areas.

"We are working on our free throw shooting and our rebounding," said Reel. "We are struggling in both areas."

Reel's ladies struggled mightily on offense in the first quarter in Austintown. Canfield could only corral 9 first period points as the Lady Falcons forged ahead 17-9. The Cardinals did better in the second stanza, but still were outscored by three points. Down 47-33 entering the fourth quarter, the Cardinals came out smoking. Strong shooting by sensational Serena Sammarone kept Canfield close, but even the 25 points the visitors scored in the final frame wasn't enough to come out on top. Sammarone would score a game-high 30 points in the setback. Grace Mangapora scored 17 points.

Making the loss even harder for the Cardinals to swallow was the fact that the nemesis Falcons secured the Red Tier championship with their win. Despite the heartbreaking defeat, Reel was impressed on how hard his kids battled even after falling behind by so many points.

"I'm proud of the girls for fighting until the end," he said. "We went down twenty points with two minutes in the third quarter and still had a chance to win at the end."

Reel then went on to give huge amounts of credit to the conference champs and their superstar senior forward.

"We ran into a Fitch team that is playing well," Reel said. "They simply played better than us. And Sabria Hunter is one of the best post players I've coached against."

The longtime coach didn't have to coach against Boardman's best player when Canfield collided with the Lady Spartans on Feb. 6. Boardman's Maria Torres was absent, and it hurt the visitors as Canfield claimed the home win 49-39. That win was Canfield's fourth in a row and sent the Spartans to their sixth straight setback. This clash was closely contested over the first two frames with the Cardinals holding a 31-25 halftime lead. A 12-7 run by Boardman in the third period cut Canfield's lead down to a single point. It was Canfield's crushing defense over the final eight minutes, however, that enabled Reel's club to clinch the relatively relaxing victory. Boardman was held to only two points by the Cardinals' killer defenders in the last period.

"We got stops in the fourth quarter," said Reel. "We haven't always done that this year."

Marissa Ieraci scored 13 points to lead Canfield. Mangapora had a dozen points and five rebounds. Sammarone scored eight points to go along with three steals and two rebounds. The triumph gave Canfield a sweep over the Spartans this season.

Canfield also swept Ashtabula Lakeside with the second win being a decisive 80-30 blowout on Groundhog's Day. It was a very special afternoon for the Canfield family too because Sammarone became another Cardinal to eclipse 1000 career points. She scored 20 for the game. Mangapora put in 10 points.

Prior to the start of the tournament, the Cardinals will play at Ravenna and Howland. The rumble with Ravenna was scheduled for February 11 while the tilt with the Lady Tigers took place two night later. The Redbirds will be trying to gain some revenge from Howland for their 46-33 loss on Jan. 23.



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