The 18-1 Irish will play Boardman Saturday for a share of the Steel Valley Conference crown.
& lt;a href=mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org & gt;By JOE SCALZO & lt;/a & gt;
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- With less than a minute left in Wednesday's game, Canfield High girls basketball coach Pat Pavlansky walked over to Ursuline coach Sean Durkin, shook his hand and asked, "Did we prepare you for Saturday?"
Durkin smiled, finally ready to exhale, as the Irish outlasted the visiting Cardinals, 56-47, in a non-league tuneup for both teams.
"We expected this to be tough," Durkin said. "Whenever we play them, we know it's going to be close."
The teams originally scheduled this game for December but pushed it back so each team could prepare for Saturday.
Canfield has a first-round tournament game against Massillon Perry at Alliance while the Irish travel to Boardman looking to earn their first share of the Steel Valley Conference title.
"We feel they're very similar to Boardman because they're very disciplined on offense and defense," Ursuline senior Amber Miller said. "It was a good game for us."
Ursuline junior Courtney Davidson had 23 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Irish (18-1), whose only loss was to Boardman.
"Our girls are excited about the chance to play Boardman," Durkin said. "It's our one blemish this season and it was a tough experience for us.
"We know what we're going to see -- it's the same junk defense we always see. We're just going to try to get them to play man-to-man."
Freshman Tyra Grant added 15 points and five rebounds and Christina Cook had 10 points for Ursuline, which will look to press the tempo against the Spartans.
"Everything we do runs off our defense," Durkin said. "We're not a great half-court team, so we're not going to win by with a walk-up game."
Jill Vertanen had 12 points and eight rebounds for Canfield (10-10), which plays one of the area's toughest schedules.
"We'll play anybody," Pavlansky said. "With all the tough games we had on our schedule, we knew that if we at least went .500 we'd have a good year.
"Obviously, though, that's not our goal. We're not in this for moral victories," Pavlansky said.
Mara Boak had 10 points and Kelly Williams added six points, four rebounds and four assists for the Cardinals.
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