Salem captures share of MAC lead

The Quakers, with help from Canfield on Wednesday, defeated Howland, 49-46, and share the lead with Poland.
& lt;a & gt;By JOE SCALZO & lt;/a & gt;
HOWLAND -- Minutes after losing to Canfield last weekend, Salem High girls basketball coach Steve Stewart told Cardinals coach Pat Pavlansky, "You owe us one."
Pavlansky's Cardinals made good on Wednesday by defeating Poland, giving the Quakers a chance to tie for the Metro Athletic Conference title.
"He stopped by tonight and I told him thanks," Stewart said of Pavlansky. "We'll send him a card."
Of course, Salem still had to beat Howland or the whole thing was meaningless. Which they did -- barely.
Salem senior Abby Markovich scored 14 points -- including eight in the fourth quarter -- as the Quakers rallied past the Tigers 49-46 Thursday at Howland.
"It was a battle the whole game and we knew we had to step it up to another level," said Markovich, one of just two Quaker seniors. "This is my senior year and I really wanted to win a MAC title."
Games still remaining
Poland still has games against Struthers and Niles, and Salem still has to play Struthers -- games both teams should be favored to win.
Salem has not won a MAC title since the 1996-97 season.
"We got a gift [from Canfield] and we needed to take advantage of the opportunity," Stewart said. "Our theme tonight was 'Leave Nothing Behind.' "
The Quakers took a 10-2 lead to open the game, but Howland tied the score with an 8-0 run and eventually took a 15-14 lead after the first quarter.
The teams played even over the next two quarters. Howland took a 37-35 lead with 6:30 remaining in the game, but Markovich scored three straight baskets to give the Quakers the lead for good.
Howland twice had chances to tie in the final 30 seconds, but Salem's Tiffanie Heestand blocked a shot by Sara Krezeczowski with 20 seconds to go, and Darcy Quinlan missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"This has become a good rivalry and we definitely wanted to take away the championship from them," Howland coach John Diehl said. "I thought Markovich's baskets were definitely the turning point."
Leading the Quakers
Alyson Cotter had 14 points and Lauren Teal had 10 points, nine rebounds and five blocks for Salem (13-3, 7-2). Heestand added eight points and seven assists.
Quinlan led the Tigers (12-4, 4-4) with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Kristina Ferenac added 14 points and five rebounds and Kristy Krezeczowski had 10 points.
Howland shared last year's MAC title with Canfield and had high hopes for this season, but lost four close games. The Tigers will try to rebound in the tournament, but moved up to Division I this season and have a tough road ahead.
"We've got teams like Boardman and North Canton Hoover ahead of us," Diehl said. "We're going to have to play our 'A' game."
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