The Cardinals, plagued by foul trouble, let their lead to Canton McKinley slip away.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
ALLIANCE -- Canfield High girls basketball coach Pat Pavlansky turned to his assistants midway through the fourth quarter and said, "If you've got any ideas, let me know. I don't have any."
By that time, it may have been too late.
After a strong first half, the Cardinals got into foul trouble in the second half -- which led to real trouble against Canton McKinley.
The Bulldogs made 24-of-25 free throws and rallied from a late third-quarter deficit to beat Canfield 61-50 in a Division I sectional Saturday at Alliance High School.
Wrong day to play: "They were better than us today," Pavlansky said. "If we play tomorrow, I like our chances, but we just didn't play our game today."
McKinley junior Treasure Humphries led the Bulldogs (13-9) with 23 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Junior Telly Jackson added 12 points and seven rebounds and junior Abby Gross had 10 points and seven rebounds.
"We play a really tough schedule with teams like Walsh Jesuit, Pickerington and Regina and that kind of prepares us for the tournament," Bulldog coach Curt Bucklew said. "You play good teams and hopefully it pays off."
Canfield junior Jill Vertanen led the Cardinals (15-6) with 20 points -- 15 in the first half -- and 10 rebounds. Senior Erin Martin -- who missed most of the third quarter after picking up her fourth foul -- added 16 points and six assists.
Turn of events: The Bulldogs jumped out to a 17-8 lead with 2:02 remaining in the first quarter and seemed to be in control. But Canfield answered with an 18-0 run, spanning more than six minutes, to take a 26-17 lead midway through the second quarter.
"That's when we started playing our game," said Pavlansky, whose team advanced to the Div. II state finals last year.
But McKinley didn't fold. Humphries scored four points in 10 seconds and later hit a 3-pointer to pull the Bulldogs within 32-28 at halftime.
Canfield held a 34-30 lead when Martin picked up her fourth foul with 4:48 remaining in the third. By the time she got back in to start the fourth, McKinley led 43-39 and was in the bonus the rest of the way.
"We make a run and Martin thinks she has to make a steal and she picks up her fourth," Pavlansky said. "We got their guard [Tyonna Vance] in foul trouble in the first half, but they did it to us in the second."
Canfield got no closer than six in the fourth quarter. McKinley hit all 18 of its free throw attempts in the second half.
Next season: The Cardinals lose three seniors, including starters Martin and Nicole Vlajkovich but will return three starters, including Vertanen, who had a standout game.
"We're very happy to have Jill back," Pavlansky said. "She's a great kid and doesn't get the credit she deserves. We've got a nice group returning."
McKinley advances to play North Canton Hoover next Thursday. The Bulldogs are the only team to beat Hoover this season.
"We're a better team than we were five or six games ago," Bucklew said. "But there's some good teams left."